The Least Wonderful Time of the Year

Hey, remember when the JSS was starting up? Well one of the first things that we all bitched about “back in the day,” was Representative Gary Chism and his attempt at getting anti-evolution warning stickers put onto biology textbooks in Mississippi.

Chism, the southern baptist insurance salesman from Columbus, Mississippi, now has an even weaker bill he’d like to pass – I’m not even sure, entirely, what it would require after reading it here.

From Section I:

The lesson provided to students shall not evidence bias through selective instruction on the theory of evolution, but rather, shall have proportionately equal instruction from educational materials that present scientifically sound arguments by protagonists and antagonists of the theory of evolution.

Even making the world-shattering assumption that scientifically sound arguments by “antagonists of the theory of evolution” actually exist I don’t think that we’re going to be able to buy all those copies of “Pandas and People,” so lets add “unfeasible” to the list of problems this bill has.

Now on to part 2, where what I think of as the real intent of the bill exists:

No local school board, school superintendent or school principal shall prohibit a public school classroom teacher from discussing and answering questions from individual students on the origin of life…

Ah, so when one kid keeps sidetracking the biology class into theology, or one teacher wants to chat Answers in Genesis instead of Darwins finches, no one can stop them.

This is just about the last thing we need. Fortunately, Chism brings such a bill to the house yearly, and it is soundly stomped (none have ever gotten out of committee) – probably more for political bragging rights than anything else.

So for you Jacksonians, Representative Cecil Brown is the Chairman of the Education Committee – and he’s from our district (district 66), so let him know – he’s the guy with his hand on the throat of this thing at the moment.

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12 responses to “The Least Wonderful Time of the Year

  1. jacksonskepticalsociety

    Heh, heard from someone who contacted Rep. Brown about this bill. Here’s what he had to say:

    David,

    Thanks for your email. The bill will not make it out of committee. I will not bring it forward.

    Cecil

  2. you caint teach them there evilution

    as ive said religion is a mental illness. run any religious inspired idea past someone even remotely acquainted with the dsm iv-tr and you would say theyre delusional. the school system functions best when it is atheist and you agree. we must champion diversity and these people have no more a right to spout their own beliefs in their own communities than any racist or neonazi. this is why we have the department of education to homogenize the curriculum and make sure creationism or any other nonsense that doesnt conform with the scientific consensus isnt forced onto the youth. its not that people lack an ability to decide but that they do so poorly and its up to skeptics like us to tell them what best to think. essentially they must be shut up and you and i see eye to eye on that. its these backwater fundies and cave dwelling dino riders that hold back scientific progress and impinge upon our educational acme. thanks for getting a word out and informing some of the people down there.

  3. jacksonskepticalsociety

    “we must champion diversity and these people have no more a right to spout their own beliefs in their own communities than any racist or neonazi. ”

    Well this being America, racists and nazis have the rights to do so. It doesn’t always turn out well for them, and people have just as much of a right to go out there and confront them, free speech cutting both ways and all.

    Religious types can put their religious beliefs in other classes, designed just for that sort of thing, but the science class is the science class, and creationism is not science. It’s just as appropriate as having a section on historical clay making techniques is to your mathematics class.

    As for the “backwater fundies,” it’s not so much the fact that they’re ignorant that bugs me – it’s the fact that they’re senators.

  4. the rights afforded to said nazis and racists is done so in our constitution and bill of rights by divine providence. since there is no divine providence any argument you could offer on these said rights is bunk.

    what youre saying sounds all fine and well hypothetically but there is a reality where things exist. in reality rights are given to the individual by the state. and as ive said before you dont actually have free speech but freedom to responsible speech. i cant tell people something not sanctioned by the fda will cure their cancer, i cant threaten the president, i cant tell impressionable youths heaven awaits them by blowing themselves up, without consequences that will result in my loss of said rights.

    invariably as you said, things dont always turn out well for them. the bad part is they usually try dragging us down with them. the danger they pose to themselves, their children, us, the environment, our future, well warrants the necessary measures. for instance, planned parenthood was founded by margaret sanger as an exercise in negative eugenics
    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Margaret_Sanger#Eugenics_and_euthanasia

    if theyre so wrong and they bother you so much then doing something a little more proactive isnt just out of the question but necessary. if you find that your existence depends on perpetually harassing these intellectual dwarves perhaps you should find some new line of work? to speak truth to them is one thing, but the end result is to finally be done away with them and cure society of its terminal agnoia, not this eternal game of tom and jerry you propose.

    as a fellow atheist i really recommend you examine some of your beliefs more rationally.

  5. besides, that argument for interdisciplinary foul ups, “you cant teach shakespeare in shop class”, simply wont work with religion. your debate is flawed on the notion that religion is on par with the other disciplines in terms of credulity but it simply isnt. even in a court of law you would be better off pleading insanity than saying god told you to do it.

    to say that creationism shouldnt be taught in a science class is fine. but to say it would be like teaching pottery in a math class is both illogical and demeaning to both pottery and math. anyone earnestly spouting any kind of unfounded imaginary garbage from the bible as if it were fact ought to have their head examined.

  6. jacksonskepticalsociety

    Soberguy, I appreciate the science stories, the humor, and even the bits where you bug me about marriage.

    I don’t appreciate the word “submongloid” to describe anyone. I do not agree with the people who grace the pages of the blog, but I’m certainly not out to “be done away with” anyone. That is a horrible proposition.

    Also, the constitution is not “divine right” no matter what your right wingnuts will tell you. We are not given rights by the state – the state exists to protect those rights.

    Thus, you’re correct to say that you cannot tell people salt water cures cancer, or that they should blow themselves up – these things will, in reality, get your free speech card revoked (jail in the latter case, a tiny fine in the case of faulty supplements).

    The reason why is because your actions will cause other people to suffer more grievous losses of rights than your loss of your right to those instances of free speech. They’ll be dead.

    Homeopaths, psychics, and such people – they bother me, true – but they don’t bother me so much that I’d even consider the sorts of things you’re talking about. An eternal game of tom and jerry is a much more acceptable solution, even though I don’t think it’s one that will happen. People are less superstitious by the day.

    My existence does not require this. It’s a hobby. I enjoy it. This is not some cosmic war between truth and untruth. Maybe you should take a step back and gain some perspective.

  7. lol! okay man

    but lets not play word games. actually you are out to be done away with them as i am. all your efforts undeniably serve this end. what grows in the shade withers on the vine. as you said people are less superstitious by the day and this is our goal. to expose the quacks and cranks and to educate people on simple factual truth which i am grateful that you do. we agree on this.

    if you are implying that i am racist in some way by my use of the word submongoloid then why would i spend my latest posts expounding against racism and nazism? are you against the word subhuman? are you offended by troglodyte? it doesnt contain a racial connotation in the same way niggardly doesnt despite how close to the n word it sounds.

    moving away from ad hominem detractions……… with regards to these rights your argument is obviously flawed. you acknowledge that the state and not god can take away a persons rights but yet you dont recognize that the state is the source of these rights since they are able to take them away……… of course in america the rights you speak of are divinely ordained. you want to know how i know this? because if you read the constitution thats what it says. but since there is no god and no rational human being should believe such things then there is no source for these rights. qed

    case in point
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/7016266/Man-arrested-under-Terrorism-Act-for-Doncaster-airport-Twitter-joke.html

    hows this for perspective. lets suppose there is a god versus devil style cosmic war between truth and untruth as you describe which there isnt but you are free to believe…….. why are you wearing a soldiers uniform? why do you attack the enemy? youve clearly picked sides. so whats the point? to not do anything? to throw stones at the enemy then run into the forest to fight another day? there is a problem and there is a logical conclusion. people molest children, impart racism and mental illness, poison or even kill their own offspring with swami swill, harm the environment, diminish the quality of life of those around them……… the “something” that has to be done in reality is being done and isnt as dramatic as you might imagine. you make it out that im suggesting something abominable when its really the application of common sense and what we as skeptics know to be true. the weak argument of free speech and free market and free whatever has been used to permit a great number of ills that eventually require reasonable regulation and legislation anyway. kids could buy heroine over the counter and people could sell snake oil. free market! then people needed a regulatory entity because no one knew what was being put in anything. fda!

    reform the education system, put people in jail who kill their kids with homeopathy and teach them racism and other superstitions, fine people for the environmental damage their lifestyle incurs. schools, child protection services, the fbi, the fda, kyoto protocols and climate change legislation are all attempts by rational people to solve these problems and they arent as hitlerian as you may hallucinate. it might be said of us that are made of stern stuff indeed but it is necessary to see great ideas into fruition. all im asking is everyone be a little more proactive in their approach to these problems and the people who cause them.

    and i would be perfectly willing to sacrifice myself or my so called imaginary rights for a green earth, for a better future, for a greater humanity, if by my sacrificing guarantees those things. those who cling to ignorant superstitions and tribal identities and outmoded beliefs are the most selfish members of the species and are the reason why humanity exists as a blight.

    forgive me if my ideas seem acerbic. i wish you no ill, only to serve to illuminate.

  8. jacksonskepticalsociety

    Saying “yeah, actually you DO think like I do” is quite possibly the weakest rhetorical tactic I’ve ever heard. I don’t. You have to back up your claim, not just state that I think like you do. Because, again – I don’t.

    If someone who had spent their whole life deep into what you’re calling “insanity” were to come up with a negative stereotype of a skeptic – maybe make them up as a character to play – they would look a whole lot like you. I’ve met a lot of scientists, tech-heads, skeptics, secular philosophers and thinkers, both in person and online and you don’t sound like any of them, your turns of phrase, ideas and vocabulary are all very familiar, though.

    You sound really, really familiar, and I swear I’ve had this exact same argument before. For some reason, this guy – a smart guy, but profoundly wrong on this one point – thought that by disagreeing with people and saying, publicly, that they were wrong, I was taking a step towards facism and the dark side.

    Since you and bigmOney have the same IP I’m forced to conclude that you’re either the same person, or live together, either of which would be the basis for a hilarious sitcom. Given your IPs geographic location, I know of a guy you might want to room with. Lives in your neighborhood.

    Oh and huge lists of links wind up in the spam, which is deleted.

  9. those are a lot of ifs.

    sounds like you need to reconcile with this person, as your baggage is spilling over where it doesnt belong. i know that my views have lead to some misunderstandings more than a few times including with some fellow skeptics. but a good argument isnt based on ad hominem attacks. first of all i do access this site from work or from my work computer and through vm remotely so i have no control over who might get that shared ip or the physical devices that are used. and i do work with pharmacological and research doctors for a small company near a university setting. if you want to accuse me of not sounding like a scientist my background wasnt always science but……… here i am. i will not confirm nor deny whether i know the other person who posted but not everyone can be of the same opinion. if you doubt my veracity unfortunately no one can change your mind on that except you.

    so far as your attempts to play internet detective and your critique of my mannerisms i can assure you that we havent personally met and my identity remains securely mine. ip tracking scales in reliability and if i were indeed playing a trick that involved concealing my identity wouldnt you think i would have used a proxy?

    i have spoken to people whose vocations are mostly same as the ones you have spoken with (not sure what a tech head is supposed to be) and not all of them agree with me and not all of them are skeptics. i think it is fair to steer away from sweeping generalizations when it comes to personal experiences and prejudices. and believe it or not there is some overlapping between those two groups, skeptics and people who disagree with me. and of course there are those who do agree with me. sometimes not at first. but in your case in regaling us with your social life all youve done is cite anecdotal evidence in this regard so we must discount that if we are to be rational about this.

    i dont wish you any ill and my intentions arent malicious. in voicing my opinion here i thought it would be an intellectual speak easy with those who are like minded. and indeed i imagine that we could be friends if i ever do decide to visit the skeptic society down there. but let me play blog psychic for a moment as well and say the reason why youve taken to attacking myself and my ideas as phony is because you are faced with an argument that you disagree with and dont want to take on in a reasonable debate, which i invite you here to do so. if you find fault in my logic where there actually formally is one then we might discuss credulity or who is in charge of their mental faculties. and if you have a cogent logical counter argument then by all means post one and define your position instead of going after me personally. with your trying to make this about me and who i may or may not be and not engaging the issue here in these points the only conclusion that can be derived is you are avoiding doing so either because you are unwilling or incapable of engaging it. here are my points some of which you may share but if you dont then defend your claim.

    *we only believe that which is provable (we agree on that). this follows what we know as science and positivism.
    *there is no god since he has been proven to not exist (we agree on that but i dont agree on pseudo religious themed rituals)
    *without god there are no rights since according to the constitution god is the source of these rights (if you are an atheist as i am you should appreciate this point)
    *rights are the states alone to give since the state also removes someones rights. and god isnt throwing people in jail last i checked.
    *a democratic process ensures the best decision is made. however some people are better suited at making decisions than most. this is why we have a democratic process in science. and though anyone can participate not everyone does or should as per cranks and kooks and other incompetents.
    *we use this process in conjunction with disciplined study to establish objective truth. there is a truth and we can know it. individuals are fallible which is why we have a process and we are refining our understanding constantly. this is called progress.
    *people who selfishly abuse so called rights and endanger others should have said rights taken away. this is the foundation of our present day justice system and what is practiced. nothing appalling here.
    *this definition extends to people who molest children, wound others with alternative treatments, etc. in other words stupidity kills.
    *however it is these same sorts of people who are a danger not to themselves but to all life around them as evident by contributing to the following problems:
    crime
    mental illness
    diseases
    disadvantageous genetic mutations
    climate change
    overpopulation
    resource scarcity
    environmental damage
    *we need to take charge and contain the actions of these people as much as we can. our survival or in the least our quality of life is contiguous upon that. this means confronting them with the truth at every turn, passing legislation that stymies their proselytizing, bettering education methods, and so forth. these are things you are helping to do and what you call for doing here in the blog by exposing cranks, posting in publications against alternate therapies, talking to legislators about the creeping influences of superstition.
    *the end result is progress. this will come in waves. the initial stage with be resistance. these ideas may be uncomfortable but are wholly rational. those who are the source of the problem, those who are selfish or who have outmoded beliefs, and not going along with the solution will be particularly obstinate. they will fight but the truth is inevitable. after the initial resistance is overcome then will begin global application such as what was attempted at copenhagen. however you seem to be content in focusing on the former with no regard to the latter so i wont bother you with that………

    i ask you debate me on what i just said.

    the only charge that i would levy against you is that you arent really an atheist and you have some ideas that arent as well thought out as you like to think, but as it appears to me we seem to agree on quite a few things. if you dont, instead of accusing me of whatever fits your irrational paranoia, or making baseless sweeping statements, formally refute my argument if you find it so wrong and disagreeable. i could be the pope or some person on the street who slighted you. but an argument is an argument.

    i thoroughly enjoy your blog and shall continue to be an avid reader.

    if you have any other questions i would ask that you email them to me privately at the address used to log the comment.

  10. i am a master of debates. i shall debate you. and then we will see who indeed is… the master debater!

  11. jacksonskepticalsociety

    Jeez, now you make me want to not debate at all.

    Alright, let’s do this. We’ll put aside any questions of identity at this juncture.

    You say: *we only believe that which is provable (we agree on that). this follows what we know as science and positivism.

    I say: People believe all sorts of improvable things. I know I do, I know you do. You can’t prove everything. You can’t prove a negative. This is the reason that positivism has fallen out of favor in describing human interactions – we’re often irrational. The scientific method is hard to use on humans – you can’t really set up a control group or experiment with any variable you want. But for the most part, I’m inclined to agree with you there.

    You say: *there is no god since he has been proven to not exist (we agree on that but i dont agree on pseudo religious themed rituals)

    I say: I believe that there is no god since no one has any good evidence that he exists. You think that pseudo-religious themed rituals have no point, whereas I see that the community makes things such as weddings actually work. The ritual is not for a god, it is for the people here on earth.

    You say: *without god there are no rights since according to the constitution god is the source of these rights (if you are an atheist as i am you should appreciate this point)

    I say: I cannot appreciate this point since it is demonstrably false. Show me where, in the constitution, god gives us these rights. These rights are given in a manmade document for a government of men. Even if they were in some way divinely “inspired” or given via what the founding fathers might have thought of as “divine right,” we don’t just throw them out any more than we throw out Newtons’ optics because he was an occultist christian.

    You say: *rights are the states alone to give since the state also removes someones rights. and god isnt throwing people in jail last i checked.

    I say: The state does in fact protect, give, and take away rights in the US of A. Sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for bad. This is why I would not want to use the law to silence others – I might be on the other side of it one day.

    You say: *a democratic process ensures the best decision is made. however some people are better suited at making decisions than most. this is why we have a democratic process in science. and though anyone can participate not everyone does or should as per cranks and kooks and other incompetents.

    I say: A democratic process does not ensure that the best decision is made. Some people are better suited at making decisions than others, but even the best thinkers and decision makers can be wrong, which is why openness is so important. We do not have a democratic process in science, it is based on merit of ideas and quality of work. It is an open process, perhaps that is what you mean by “democratic,” but no one votes on it, nor do a preponderance of opinions create “correctness.”

    You say: *we use this process in conjunction with disciplined study to establish objective truth. there is a truth and we can know it. individuals are fallible which is why we have a process and we are refining our understanding constantly. this is called progress.

    I say: There is no capitol T Truth in science. Some things can be more correct than other things – a scientist knows that the only way to replicate an experiment is to perform every detail in the same manner. We disagree in details. Individuals are fallible, true, that is why we have a process. That is NOT why we are refining our understanding. The reason we are refining our understanding is because we demand that our models become increasingly akin to reality.

    You say: *people who selfishly abuse so called rights and endanger others should have said rights taken away. this is the foundation of our present day justice system and what is practiced. nothing appalling here.

    I say: True that. Those who take rights away from others lose certain rights. (Ideally) Our justice system is far from just, but stripped of the tribal idea of retribution prevalent in our body of law, this is a legitimate model of how things work. There are, I believe, better models for a justice system, but that’s a separate conversation.

    You say: *this definition extends to people who molest children, wound others with alternative treatments, etc. in other words stupidity kills.

    I say: This does not necessarily follow. Molestation of children is handled in a variety of forms that has little to do with the conversation. Wounding people with alt-med should expose the practitioner to the same sorts of problems as a licensed medical doctor would face – fines, loss of licensure and practice – but in many cases it does not. The problem is compounded because many alt-med practitioners do not realize that their treatments are not treating anything. Also, many states lack any sort of regulatory procedure for alt-med practitioners, leaving them unable to punish those who fail their clients. The vagaries of medicine and alternative medicine are ill-suited for legal interventions. However, we do well in many cases. People who perform horrible acts are often punished accordingly, and doctors who make honest, boneheaded mistakes are sued for financial damages. It’s not perfect, and people in other realms are working on this. Their solutions are guaranteed not to be perfect. Regulation and law are never going to fit every situation – living things have a near-infinite capacity to adapt to a huge variety of niches.

    You say: *however it is these same sorts of people who are a danger not to themselves but to all life around them as evident by contributing to the following problems:
    crime
    mental illness
    diseases
    disadvantageous genetic mutations
    climate change
    overpopulation
    resource scarcity
    environmental damage

    I say: Crime does not necessarily pose a danger to yourself or to life around you, nor does it necessarily arise from ignorance and/or superstition. Nor does mental illness. Disease should be treated in order to advance knowledge in our fight against it. What you consider a disadvantageous genetic mutation today could be a darwinian solution tomorrow. As for climate change, resource scarcity, and environmental damage, this is a legitimate concern that we’re involved in at the moment. Either we’ll work these problems out, or we’ll solve overpopulation in a horrific and accidental manner.

    You say: *we need to take charge and contain the actions of these people as much as we can. our survival or in the least our quality of life is contiguous upon that. this means confronting them with the truth at every turn, passing legislation that stymies their proselytizing, bettering education methods, and so forth. these are things you are helping to do and what you call for doing here in the blog by exposing cranks, posting in publications against alternate therapies, talking to legislators about the creeping influences of superstition.

    I say: Here you might actually agree with me. Congratulations, you win… well, nothing. Achievement: Master debater?

    *the end result is progress. this will come in waves. the initial stage with be resistance. these ideas may be uncomfortable but are wholly rational. those who are the source of the problem, those who are selfish or who have outmoded beliefs, and not going along with the solution will be particularly obstinate. they will fight but the truth is inevitable. after the initial resistance is overcome then will begin global application such as what was attempted at copenhagen. however you seem to be content in focusing on the former with no regard to the latter so i wont bother you with that………

    You lose me here. Resistance to uncomfortable ideas? People fighting the truth? Initial resistance overcome, beginning global application? Since I don’t know what you’re going on about I can’t possibly agree. As to Copenhagen being a “global application” of truth or progress, I could possibly agree less, but I doubt it. A few countries agreed, in a legally non-binding way, to maybe reduce the acceleration of carbon emissions. Man.

    My conclusion: We don’t agree a whole lot. A lot of our disagreement is in details, but that’s where the devil is, eh? If you think, as you admit, that your views are controversial and you have detractors for them, then why just assume that I was going to go along with it?

    I’m glad you’re still reading. You should seek out the Memphis Freethought Alliance. I hear they have good stuff going on, and as a freethought society they’ll be more interested in atheist topics and political musings.

    http://www.memphisfreethought.com/

  12. round douche

    *if youll read the wikipedia article on positivism all the way down, there is a branch of positivism dedicated to just that
    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Social_positivism#Sociological_positivism

    methods of inquiry and our ability to intellectualize arent limited by the subject. but if you admit that the method of inquiry is limited by the subject (or that you cant “do science to it”) then you must also admit that there are subjects which the scientific method simply cant answer. this would extend to not readily observable, heady topics like the entity which is traditionally called god, math, language, music, the mind, and other intangibles whose claimed domain may be outside the observable but yet purportedly affect the natural world. if science cant be applied to these subjects then the conclusion solely based on the methodological findings conducted by scientists or people who follow the science culture would have to be “agnostic”, ie impartially suspended judgment, since the data would have to be 0 on those subjects by default and impossible to expand beyond that. this neither confirms nor denies the existence of such things because the view of science is deliberately narrowed so that it doesnt accommodate them. science simply isnt interested in them but doesnt preclude their reality nor does it mean science (since observational vantages may change) or a method of inquiry cant be applied to them.

    dont get me wrong though, god totally doesnt exist. we did a bunch of lab experiments and he wasnt there.

    with specificity, the scientific method is used to gauge observable effects. for that to happen there must be that which is being observed and that which is doing the observing. to state that human behavior cant have science done to it implies human behavior isnt observable. irrationality is a quality assigned by the observer. stating 141592653589793 appear to be random numbers is a claimed dispelled when one discovers they are the first 15 digits of pi past the decimal. humans may not be 100% rational (like if theyre sleeping or dead) but they can be predictable. humans do produce observable effects and act in accordance with fulfilling desires. after that creativity may be applied to those ends. those desires arent always optimal or consistent, however human actions can be understood by classification of what we observe of them, by categorization and recognizing patterns. once identified we apply the method which can predict those patterns. these are things that groups like the military, marketing, and software designers are very interested in.

    so are you implying sociology, psychiatry, etc, arent really sciences, or could never hope to be, even though they utilize scientific methodology? would you prefer to say is there only one true science out there? and who gets to do this?

    tangentially, the idea i find fascinating in my discussions with fellow scientists is the idea of chaos versus order in relation to the universe and humanity. most reveal they are of the mind that the universe is chaos and humans impose order, while the inverse of that would be that the universe is orderly and it is humans imposing the chaos. are we writing the laws of nature or are we discovering the laws?

    attempting relevance again……… so let me clarify the phrasing of the previous statement. we as people _ought_ only believe that which is provable. any other irrational belief simply doesnt hold to scrutiny and must be completely dispelled with the utmost urgency. the “We” in the previous statement was an indication of concordance between you and i and that we as skeptics, positivists, empiricists understand to be true.

    *if i were of the belief that god existed then i would find evidence for him. but because he doesnt exist there is no good evidence that he does. and because there is no good evidence of god he doesnt exist……… this is a good book, perhaps youve read it?
    http://www.amazon.com/Prometheus-Rising-Robert-Anton-Wilson/dp/1561840564/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264363267&sr=8-1

    detracting the opposition doesnt prove you right. and lack of evidence doesnt indicate lack of existence, but a possible lack of an effectively instantiated, strong argument.

    this gets into semantics and how liberal you are with your beliefs, and the contractual understanding we enter with our ideas and external memes. beliefs are a vehicle of fulfilling the desire to not experience doubt. what is your definition of god? are you satisfied or dissatisfied by the instantiation of this idea? if you are disputing the existence of some character in the bible by conferring with positivists, add water and shake, and you get atheism. if god simply represents a stand in for the unknown, or god is the reason behind the math that tells flower petals the best way to organize themselves so they get optimal sun exposure, then thats something totally different. so then, why are your claims against an imaginary character from an spotty, antiquated piece of literature desirable? what function do they serve?

    weddings and societal approval are vestiges of patriarchal cultures and dont really exist nor are they necessary. and the fact is only crazy people believe religion and they should be shut up and challenged at every turn. moving on.

    *”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” — United States Declaration of Independence (July 1776)

    you could say the constitution smartly doesnt use the words “god” or “creator” or “divine”, but that is because by the time you get to it the constitution isnt concerned where these rights come as that gets covered in the declaration. but the constitution itself does invoke “blessings of Liberty”. and dispensing blessings is the business of gods and those who, would have you believe, are their proxies. the founders were were masons after all, so they have to use the word “Creator” which has advantage of a christian connotation. and capital l “Liberty” was a goddess and why we have a statue of her in new york as a gift from their fellow french brother masons.

    the stronger argument i think youre wanting to get at is the case for natural rights, that is rights without the god part. you can argue that while god may or may not exist, rights do exist naturally as part of the human condition, and the function of the state is to guarantee those rights.

    but the counter to that argument is what happens when you move from a state where your rights are guaranteed to a state where they arent. whats going on there? you were able to have free speech and bear arms in one country but in another you cant. are your rights still there? did you really ever have those rights in the first place?

    clearly you dont.

    *as you said it bothers you that the superstitious are in positions of authority. and though their views are perturbing, its not just the views that are the problem but that they are symptomatic of bad governance. one who governs well governs justly and therefore rationally. but no rational human being would be superstitious. governing justly requires intelligence, and no real person of intelligence would hold these retarded views.

    as i said concerning climategate, the scientists should also be the policy makers. this idea has been around for thousands of years. this was the centerpiece of plato’s republic. i am proposing nothing new here.

    the fact is we should take all religious teachings, all anti-environmentalism, all conspiracy theories, and rightly brand them as hate speech, and they should be prosecuted in the same way as we would sexism or racism, as they all lead to the detriment of society.

    we are already using the law to silence those who have abused their so called rights. what we would have to do is make sure that all the positions of authority are filled with rational human beings. if fear of retribution is your only qualm in not persecuting these creationist, homeopathic lunatics, and expecting that they be as kind to you as you are to them, then these rights truly dont exist since there is no principle behind them other than might makes right. otherwise in reality there is little else keeping you from doing so. and then you could silence them with impunity since the contents of your mind and the lawgivers is homogeneous and you act with one accord and you would have nothing to fear.

    were you in a position of power and some lunatic, ridiculous creationist favoring bill passed your desk, what would you do? would you make it law? theres no way as a rational human being could do that. and besides in order to make laws favoring god one has to prove he exists in more than just the hearts and minds of his believers. and creationism trials dont go too well either. i believe its been tried before
    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Scopes_trial

    *well we have determined that some people are better suited to making decisions than others. what we need is to have an elite group of people to make decisions for us. of course it wont be any one single elite person ruling us because that would be tyranny and single individuals can be wrong. so what well do is have it be a constant process of backstabbing and usurpation. “survival of the fittest” if you will. an eternal revolution! that way we will have the best of the best making the decisions for the rest of us. and youre right democracy really isnt the way to go so the non-elite, unexpertly people probably shouldnt have a say in how things will affect them. and of course people are needed to police the ramparts to make sure no one threatens the supremacy of the elites, and to enforce their ideas wherever possible. which is where we skeptics come in.

    i think this will work out very nicely.

    *but by demanding that our models become increasingly akin to reality arent we increasing our understanding?

    there may be no abstract eternal truth in science nor should there be. that is stuff is made of the platitudes of philosophers and theologians. but if there and cranks. but if there is no truth to the claims we can make by duplicating lab results, what are we talking about then? truth is cumulative and progress always builds on itself. thomas kuhn is totally wrong and you shouldnt pay any attention to him
    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Thomas_Kuhn#The_Structure_of_Scientific_Revolutions

    things become revised (like textbooks) but some of the premises of reality and our knowledge base have remained the same (like in textbooks). for instance the world is round, very old, and the species living on it change over time. anyone who questions that should have their head examined and see if they are right for reeducation and salvageable for society. of course if they arent one of the elites or a specialist in that field they shouldnt have any business knowing that anyway. ah, the wonders of the prussian education system………

    *the better model than our current justice system would be one that prevents crime before it is committed. this is why people are put on a watch list should the state view them as suspect. good to see we agree on that!!

    *legally perhaps not yet does it extend but that doesnt make them any less right. one solution would be simply to have the health care provider sign a contract of employment with their patient, which could be individually tailored to the needs involved, include redressing in case of malpractice, and would be covered legally under contract law. this is not the way to go because there are stupid people everywhere and the smart people have to tell them what to do. therefore stronger, smarter legislation needs to be in place to stay one step ahead of the problem before it adapts.

    *crime actually does pose a danger (you could say it even might be the main ingredient), and ignorance of the law is not a valid defense. insanity however is, though legally it is a vague umbrella term, and you would be hard pressed to find “insanity” in the dsm iv-tr, per se.

    i agree that the diseased should be treated to advance our knowledge. curing and rehabilitating the individual are distantly secondary to proving or disproving scientific theories. if i have to run someone over with a train to save the passengers on it i will do it. again and again and again and again and again………

    the bottom line is, the fewer people there are, the fewer problems there will be. in actuality human life has very little value at all (if negative counts as “very little”), given the fact that the preponderance of the population is an ignorant, selfish, cancerous waste. a small trade off for genetic diversity, but if we can eventually implement controlled genetic mutations on a consumer level thanks to advances in genetics like the human genome project, that wont be a problem. we can benignly phase out 80+% of the population without having to implement any horrific methods.

    the alternative of course being idiocracy
    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Idiocracy

    *i could unlock that achievement if i had windows live. whoops!

    i wonder if bill gates takes all that juicy xbox revenue and puts it in a check to planned parenthood. now theres a thought.

    *it may not make sense to you now, but you see space monkey, thats because were just two steps into project mayhem. dont stop believing, hold onto that feeling. someday well find it, that rainbow connection. you may say im a dreamer but im not the only one. a new day will dawn for those who stay long.

    keep up the good work, soldier!

    thanks for the suggestion of memphis freethought, but i like to avoid the company of walking oxymora………

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