January 2008 Archives

January 30, 2008

Catholic upset that nuns are human

Hello Kitty shrine at Puroland, near TokyoUnited States: A religious extremist has complained about an advertisement for a Boston gym featuring nuns in a life drawing class. Or more precisely, he complains that the object of his fetishism has been depicted as normal human beings, with human failings, as the Sisters are clearly tempted by the buff young man modelling for them.

C.J. Doyle of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts told the Herald the ad portrays a callous contempt for the sensibility of Catholics.

Perhaps it's not the nuns that the complainer finds erotic? The model's such a Muscle Mary, the only nuns who would fancy him in real life would be Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Naked-Man Ad Riles Hub CatholicsWCVB TV, 30th January 2008.

10km nearer to heaven, and God still pays no attention

Canada/Ireland: A Toronto-Heathrow flight had to be diverted to Shannon, Ireland, after the First Officer apparently suffered some kind of breakdown.

A passenger said the pilot was carried from the plane shouting and swearing, saying he wanted to talk to God....

He was very, very distraught. He was yelling loudly at times, he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

He was swearing and asking for God and very distressed. He basically said he wanted to talk to God.

Good job it wasn't a dark-skinned passenger yelling about his imaginary friend.

Pilot 'breakdown' diverts flightBBC News, 30th January 2008.

January 23, 2008

God incites more child cruelty

England: An evangelical preacher has been convicted on nine charges of wounding and cruelty to his sons. Bradford Crown Court also convicted the boys' mother, a devout Christian, of cruelty.

The evangelical preacher put safety pins through his sons' lips, sliced their mouths with scalpel blades and squeezed the older boy's tongue with sharp pincers.

The court heard that the father used religion as his excuse for the cruelty:

Prosecutor Caroline Wigin had told the court the man, a self-styled preacher and former medical student, may have mutilated the boys as his interpretation of religious teaching.

He had told the children God had had his tongue cut off in the Bible.

The court is still considering further allegations against the parents, who cannot be named because it would identify the children.

Dad guilty of sons' scalpel tortureBradford Telegraph and Argus, 23rd January 2008.

January 22, 2008

Grotesque statement of the day

Wales: There has been a string of teenage suicides in Bridgend recently. The young people all knew each other, and might have been inspired by the earlier deaths. It's a terrible situation, but one religious nutter knows it wasn't the pressure of school, the lack of employment opportunities, or the impossibility of getting a start in adult life contributing to the record levels of depression and self-harm among young people. As he explained to the Daily Mail:

Teenage suicide doesn't surprise me. Children are taught at school that we are nothing more than animals, descendents of an ape-like creature. When life gets tough why carry on living if our lives are just a freak of nature. Well done to all those who teach our kids that evolution is a fact.

If being more than an animal means being a nasty, hateful scumbag, well I say OOK!

Teenage suicide cult sweeps through town as SEVEN youngsters kill themselves in copycat deathsThe Daily Mail, 22nd January 2008.

January 21, 2008

More staff cuts at the Arkham Asylum

Publishing a story about religious pseudoscience in Russia seems to be bait for loons, for lurking in the spam trap was a comment plugging a religious book. I'm not going to give spammers publicity, so identifying details have been removed.

THE NEW DISCIPLINE!

Things will never be the same in academia after this.

There is a new discipline on the scene: physical science, the old science of cause and effect.

Against the backdrop of a nation embroiled in debate and legal battles over whether creationism or evolution, or both, should be taught in the classroom, [Redacted] proclaims a

DAY OF VICTORY!

[Redacted], a series of seven textbooks designed for the public schools, represents the ultimate marriage between an in-depth knowledge of biblical phenomena and natural and physical sciences. As a result, the several volumes have accomplished that which, heretofore, was deemed impossible: to level the playing field between those who desire a return to physical science in the classroom and those who embrace the theory of evolution. [Redacted] turns the tide by providing an authoritative and en- lightening scientific explanation of natural phenomena which will ultimately replace the unprofitable Darwinian view.

The backbone of Darwinism is not biological evolution per se, but electronic interpretation, the tenet that all physical, chemical, and biological processes result from a change in the electron structure of the atom which, in turn, may be deciphered through the orderly application of mathematics, as outlined in quantum mechanics. A few of the supporting theories are: degrading stars, neutron stars, black holes, extraterrestrial water, antimatter, the absolute dating systems, and the big bang, the explosion of a singularity infinitely smaller than the dot of an �i� from which space, time, and the massive stellar bodies supposedly sprang into being.

The philosophy rejects any divine intervention. Therefore, let the philosophy of Darwinism be judged on these specifics: electron interpretation and quantum mechanics. Conversely, the view that God is both responsible for and rules all the phenomena of the universe will stand or fall when the facts are applied. The view will not hinge on faith alone, but will be tested by the weightier principle of verifiable truths � the new discipline.

[Redacted] is not only better at explaining natural phenomena, but also may be verified through testing. As a result, the material in the several volumes will not violate the so-called constitutional separation of church and state. Physical science, the old science of cause and effect, will have a long-term sustainability, replacing irresponsible doctrines based on whim. Teachers and students will rejoice in the simplicity of earthly phenomena when entertained by the new discipline. You will not want to miss the adventure of a lifetime that awaits you in Volume 1 of [Redacted].

All those question marks are because the author, whose name is on the comment, has managed to write a series of books without being able to read, and so copied and pasted his comment straight from Microsnot Turd.

If you really want to know more, I'm sure Googling on some of the choice phrases here will prove productive. I dread to think what will happen in comments to the same story over at Newsvine.

Christians criticise appointment of anti-gay campaigner to equality body

United Kingdom: The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement has published a 10 page document criticizing the government's decision to appoint homophobic Christian activist Joel Edwards as an Equality Commissioner. Edwards has campaigned against equalities legistlation in the past, and the LGCM report uses his own words to demonstrate why Joel Edwards should not have been appointed to the Equality Commission and should resign. The report summarises the case against Edwards on page 1:

  • Joel Edwards aggressively lobbies against law reforms introducing gay equality
  • Joel Edwards promotes groups seeking to cure gay people
  • Joel Edward’s organisation seeks exemptions from the very laws Equality Commissioners are charged with upholding

They note that the organisation he leads, the Evangelical Alliance, explicitly opposes any kind of fair treatment for lesbians and gay men.

a homosexual lifestyle is a choice and is not to be classified in terms akin to race or gender. [p.3]

Of course, Edwards regards such criticism as religious discrimination and whines I therefore find it a shame that the LGCM considers my belief system less equal than others and a barrier to my serving the British public. Of course, as a religious lifestyle is a choice, surely it's not deserving of any kind of protection anyway, at least not according to Edwards' reasoning.

Joel Edwards and The Evangelical Alliance: Opponents of human rights for lesbian and gay people [Word document]—Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, 21st January 2008; Gay Christian group criticises new equality commissionerThe Guardian, 21st January 2008.

Barking Russian ID article.

Russia: The Soviet Union was never that fond of Darwinian evolution, preferring the Lamarkian model, most notable for the idea that acquired characteristics could be passed on. Not a lot has changed since then, although the excessive influence of the church means that deliberate pseudoscience is preferred these days. If you need an article to demonstrate the sheer silliness of "Intelligent Design", the Pravda can help. Even though the article has been translated by someone who does not have English as their first language, I don't think it can be misunderstood. It's first argument is that, as we can build machines to build other machines, we must have been designed. Really.

Imagine finding a planet where robots are programmed so that they can make other robots just like themselves from raw materials.

Now, imagine an alien scientist visitor coming to the planet and, after many years of studying these robots, the alien scientist visitor comes to the conclusion that since science can explain how these robots work, operate, function, and reproduce there's no reason to believe that there was an ultimate intelligent designer behind them.

The analogy above certainly is not perfect but it is sufficient to reveal the fallacious thinking of those who attack intelligent design behind life and the universe.

It's five pages long, and your brain will hurt before you've finished the first. He again asserts that, because we understand genetics enough to tinker with it, we must have been the result of such tinkering ourselves.

Think about it! If humans must use intelligence to perform genetic engineering, to meaningfully manipulate the genetic code, then what does that say about the origin of the genetic code itself!

Yet then comes up with a refutation of his own argument -- humans haven't created life from scratch:

Contrary to popular belief, scientists have never created life in the laboratory. What scientists have done is genetically alter or engineer already existing forms of life, and by doing this scientists have been able to produce new forms of life. However, they did not produce these new life forms from non-living matte

So, if I follow the author's previous logic, this means that as we can't do it, then neither could some other being. Ah, no, apparently this means the opposite of all the earlier assertions and our inability to intelligently design an organism is now evidence against evolution.

The rest of it is strip-mined from creationist propaganda, with clichés about tornados in scrapyards making 747s and all the other bollocks with which you will be familiar if you read Pharyngula. One more example:

How, for example, were animals breathing, eating, and reproducing if their respiratory, digestive, and reproductive organs were still incomplete and evolving? How were species fighting off possibly life-threatening germs if their immune system hadn't fully evolved yet?

Like most creationists, the author deliberately does not mention God and tried to pretend that what he thinks is purely scientific in origin. Pity the extended byline gives away his motives and lack of any genuine qualifications:

The author, Babu G. Ranganathan, is an experienced Christian writer. Mr. Ranganathan has his B.A. with academic concentrations in Bible and Biology from Bob Jones University.

Meanwhile, Tasmanian Devils appear to be evolving resistance to the cancer that's been killing them off (via Red Wolf).

Understanding intelligent designPravda, 21st January 2008.

January 19, 2008

Serendipity

Ben Goldacre has just recommended that old classic, How to lie with statistics, while analysing a newspaper "survey". But what amused me was the "sponsored link" I saw when I clicked on the Amazon link—it's a book I've been meaning to read since it was a set text at university.

A New World Order: Coming Soon
www.worldslastchance.com USA & Papacy Behind it: Are you Ready? Learn Bible Prophecy.

No, I haven't checked it, despite its probable relevance to this year's Annual End-of-the world Post.

January 15, 2008

Bruce the Astronaut

Australia: There's a great big red mountain in the middle of Australia. The indigenous people there regard it as sacred and would rather we called it Uluru, but most of us know it as Ayers Rock. But, the site is Special to some other people too, according to Pravda, and they believe a rather unusual story is told by the rock art in the area:

The UFO Area website says the astronauts are represented in rock paintings in Central Australia.

Once upon a time, in a distant past, a huge red 'egg' had difficulties to safely reach the ground and crashed, the story reads, under a picture of Uluru. Out of the 'egg' emerged white-skinned beings, followed by their children, it says. The adults had problems adapting to the Earth's atmosphere and died. The children managed to survive. Later they painted drawings of the adults in honour of their parents.

The article to which Pravda refers is almost certainly Ancient Astronauts of Uluru at UFOArea. That has since been followed up by another article, Strange Ancient Structures In The Australian Desert: Natural Rocks Or Artificial Structures? Both are available only to members of the site, which costs money, alas. If the articles are plugging a book, that's a bit of a failure really.

Aliens land in Australia to create humansPravda, 14th January 2008.

Baa!

This has already been everywhere, but Fundies Say the Darndest Things have published their top 100 fundie quotes. Some favourites, a few of which must be trolls, surely?

  • Atheists have the greatest "cover" of all, they insist they believe in no god yet most polls done and the latest research indicates that they are actually a different sect of Muslims.
  • Apes are just creatures twisted by Satan to mock Jesus by giving EVILolition credibility. Further more they are naturally lust crazed for human women. Since they are not natural creatures they should be exterminated forthwith as the tools of evil they are.
  • To say the Bible was written by men and may contain inaccuracies completely contradicts the word of the Bible.
  • Make sure your answer uses Scripture, not logic.
  • [One Christian speaking to another] You are banned. You are not a Christian for Christians don't accuse brothers and sisters in Christ of being non-Christian.
  • If we did evolve from monkeys then how come babies arent born monkeys
  • I can sum it all up in three words: Evolution is a lie
  • I am a bit troubled. I believe my son has a girlfriend, because she left a dirty magazine with men in it under his bed. My son is only 16 and I really don't think he's ready to date yet. What's worse is that he's sneaking some girl to his room behind my back. I need help, God! I want my son to stop being so secretive!

100 Greatest Quotes from fundamentalist christian chat rooms (a bit slow right now, so here's a mirror.

Pot, kettle, very dark colour

United Kingdom: Okay, this story is from the Daily Express, but it seems its not only self-styled Christians who refuse to do their jobs and then claim religious discrimination.

According to the Express, a young Muslim assistant at a branch of Marks and Spencer refused to serve a woman trying to buy a book of sanitised Bible stories for children, declaring the book to be "unclean" and declining to touch it. But if the assistant hopes for support from Muslim organisations, she looks unlikely to get it.

Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, described the assistant's comments as offensive and called for Marks & Spencer to carry out a thorough investigation.

People who think they are Christian have turned out to be much less reasonable, and have responded, not by turning the other cheek, but by entering into a competition to see who can come up with the most disgusting comment. First up, the woman who was trying to indoctrinate her grandson, who starts with the traditional phrase used when you are about to say something really racist:

I am not racist but I have vowed never to let a person wearing a headdress serve me again. It will be a long, long time before I shop again at M&S.

Then we discover that Shipley in once again in the hands of a really nasty Tory:

Mr Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, west Yorkshire, said: I find it unbelievable. We are a Christian country. I'm afraid it is no good for people to work in Marks & Spencer and not serve their products.

And then, the Muslim Council of Britian representative pours more fuel on the flames by continuing to be reasonable:

Mr Bunglawala said: This appears to be a very regrettable incident and the 'unclean' remark was clearly very offensive and unacceptable.

“Many Biblical stories complement the teachings of the Koran. We hope that M&S will investigate this incident.

Marks and Spencer have said that the incident does not reflect company policy and that they will investigate.

Personally, I'm wondering how the assistant squares her bigotry with her working for a company with such a solid Jewish heritage.

OUTCRY AS MUSLIM M&S WORKER REFUSES TO SELL 'UNCLEAN' BIBLE BOOKThe Daily Express, 15th January 2008.

January 14, 2008

More shorts

  • Hello Kitty Jesus tattoo. Yes, you read that right. Hello Kitty Jesus Tattoo = ScaryTokyomango, January 2008.
  • England: Another "Christian" claims it is discriminatory to expect her to do the job she's paid to do. Registrar threatens legal action against council over civil partnershipsEkklesia, 13th January 2008.
  • Australia: Politician behaves differently before and after election: The shadowy Exclusive Brethren religious sect has been guaranteed another $10 million in taxpayer funding for its school campuses, despite being branded an "extremist cult" which "breaks up families" by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd before the election. EXCLUSIVE: Labor backflip on BrethrenLiveNews, 14th January 2008.
  • Australia: A man who believed he had supernatural sexual powers killed his partner's best friend after encouraging her to sleep with him to exorcise her demons. Killer said sex would 'exorcise demons'Sydney Morning Herald, 14th January 2008 (via Red Wolf).
  • Cthulhu BalloonNeatorama, January 2008.
  • Wales: Naughty vicar story! A Church-in-Wales vicar has been questioned by Dyfed-Powys Police for offences relating to indecent images of children. Vicar arrest over indecent imagesBBC News, 14th January 2008.

January 11, 2008

Miscelleny

A few headlines for you:

January 1, 2008

Annual end-of-the-world post 2008

So, none of last year's predictions concerning the end of the world have come true. Nor has there been any sign of Jesus. This, of course, will not stop the prophets of doom. So, what can we expect in 2008?

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