One of the major lines of demarcation and a constant source of disagreement between theists and atheists is that of Life. Primarily human life, but in general, all life. How did living things get their beginnings, how did we come about as a result of creation? It’s one of the great mysteries of…ummm…life. How life began.
And of course, most theists believe that life began when their particular god created them. Christians believe the story in the Bible about Adam and Eve, either literally or figuratively. In either case, it’s a supernatural being that consciously and affirmatively decided to create that which we call life. Other religions have their own creation myths, but they all share a beginning story that attempts to explain how we got here.
Over at Panda’s Thumb they are soliciting donations to be used to purchase at auction the film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, along with all the supporting documents, footage that didn’t make it into the film, and the other usual residue of film making.
That’s a question we atheists get from theists. Often. Almost constantly, when we point out a fallacy in their religious thinking, or try to substantiate why we support the 1st Amendment’s proscription against governmental religious displays, or when we simply say we don’t believe in gods. They want to know why we care that they believe in supernatural spirits, or miracles, or Biblical authority, or other unsubstantiated beliefs. What harm do their beliefs cause, and why are we so damn strident about our opposition to them?
I saw this on Pharyngula, and thought that certain troll-like commenters here might find it enlightening. It fits in nicely with discussion we were having in some of the past posts about ignoring evidence, the Bible, and all the other willful ignorance they like to espouse.
Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! It will shake your religious preconceptions, but only if you have an open mind.
Ten to one they won’t watch it beyond the first minute.
Men, remember this name. Boule. That is the name of the single gene that is responsible for sperm production. Apparently, it is the same gene that all animals carry, all the way back to the most simple of organisms such as sea anemones, snails, flies and fish. This means that going back about 600 million years, sperm production has been the necessary means of species continuation for all life, and remember, life only originated on this planet about 1 billion years ago. So the process of gamete-seeks-immobile-egg had stabilized as the primary means of sexual reproduction after about 400 million years of life.
Did you ever have a discussion with someone, usually someone disdainful of science, maybe one who believes in the literal Genesis story, and you found yourself feeling frustrated at not being able to adequately explain to them the theory of evolution? When you try to explain to them the way evolution works, they throw back at you ignorant Christian apologetics, such as “Evolution is just a theory” or “Evolution cannot explain the eye” or “I believe in micro-evolution, but not macro-evolution” (as if belief is relevant to or helps one to understand science), or similar nonsense? Well, feel frustrated no more!
Doncha love it when the day starts out just right?
On my way to work this morning, I found myself behind a car with the above emblem on its trunk. I actually didn’t notice it right away, because I was too busy tying to avoid the accident the driver almost caused when she cut out of her lane and into mine, forcing me to slam on my brakes. She didn’t even look. She must have just whispered a prayer, and hoped for the best. Her car was full, I was a little preoccupied trying to slow down my heartbeat, so, as I was muttering indecent epithets over my breath, I took more notice of the crowded car and the rosary beads dangling from the mirror, than I did of the trunk.
I had the privilege of attending a gathering last evening billed as celebrating the double anniversaries of Darwin’s birthday (200) and the first publication of On The Origin of Species (150). For those who are not aware of recent events in the evolution vs. intelligent design pseudo-controversy, Harrisburg PA was the focal point of this brouhaha back in 2005 when the trial of Kitzmiller v. Dover took place in Federal Court here.
Some of the local participants in the trial put together this little event as an anniversary celebration, and as a celebration of the outcome of the trial, roughly four years ago. It was sponsored in part by the local chapter of the ACLU and PA Nonbelievers. It was held at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore, a wonderful little venue that was an old movie theater, refurbished and recently opened in downtown Harrisburg. The ambiance for a concert like this was perfect, as you sit in the store, facing the stage, surrounded by stacks and stacks of books. It’s almost like being in a library, with the added advantage of being able to buy the books you like.
It’s coming on four years since the beginning of what’s now called the Dover trial. Kitzmiller v. Dover, or the Intelligent Design trial. We’ve all had that time to digest the impact of the decision. Since then, our Most Holy of Presidents has left office, the radical right is rudderless, and fundamentalist Christians no longer have the ear of government. The “New Atheism” is all the rage, and Rush Limburger and Sean Vannity are sputtering in their cups. An outside observer could even, with some validity, point to Judge Jones’ 139 page opinion as a turning point in the cultural war that’s been raging for some twenty or so years. Of course, as long term wars are apt to do, it’s probably not something to get too excited about, being no more than a slight ebb to the flow of the battle. But one can hope, can’t one?