Sunday, 10 December 2017

Suffer Little Children - At the Hands of Priests and Nuns

Smyllum Park Catholic Children Abuse Centre, Lanarkshire, Scotlanda
Nun broke girl's arm after discovering she was being sexually abused by a priest | Metro News

When a nun caring for children at the Catholic-run Smyllum Park children's home in Lanarkshire, Scotland walked into the chapel and found a priest sexually abusing an eight year-old girl, she sprang immediately into action.

She grabbed the girl by one arm and flung her against the wall, breaking her arm, called her a 'whore' and shouted “get the f*** out of here” at her.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Pope Francis Thinks the Bible is Wrong!

Lord's Prayer: Pope Francis calls for change - BBC News

Pope Francis has been thinking.

No, it's not about how the church can avoid taking responsibility for the child abuses carried out by it's priests and nuns and certainly not about how it can compensate and support their victims and avoid creating any more.

It's about how to resolve a curious contradiction in the Bible that has been taxing the brains of theologians and biblical scholars for close on 1700 years, ever since the Bible was compiled. The contradiction is between James 13:1 with:

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.

James 13:1

And what Jesus is reputed to have told his followers to do. They were to prey to God and ask God not to tempt them:

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6:9-13

The paradox of course is why Jesus tells his followers this if it's not something God would do anyway. Are we not to trust God and is God going to change his mind and not tempt us if we ask him not to, if we can't trust him?

Now, if this had been confined to Matthew we could have dismissed it as yet another of Matthew's bloopers like where he makes Jesus look like a false prophet, but it appears in Luke too (Luke 11:2-4).

But anyway, 'infallible' Pope Francis has now resolved that paradox - Jesus got it wrong. The person whom Christians traditionally believe founded their religion and was the living manifestation of God, come to Earth to tell us how to live, was wrong. We don't need to ask God not to tempt us like Jesus said. And Pope Francis has asked for a new 'translation' to be made, so it says what he thinks it should have said and not what the 'inspired word of God' said.

When is a translation not a translation? When it doesn't say what you think the original aught to have said, obviously! One wonders how many other times someone has decided that God couldn't really have meant to say that and kindly corrected him.

But at least we no longer need to believe that the Bible is the infallible word of an infallible god or that Jesus, being God, knew his own mind.

'via Blog this'

Human Evolution - Dispersal Out of Africa

Map of sites with ages and postulated early and later pathways associated with modern humans dispersing across Asia during the Late Pleistocene.

Regions of assumed genetic admixture are also shown. ka, thousand years ago.

© Bae et al. 2017. On the origin of modern humans: Asian perspectives. Science.
Image by: Katerina Douka and Michelle O’Reilly
On the origin of modern humans: Asian perspectives | Science

One of the exciting things about science is how knowledge is never fixed and unchanging. It grows and develops as new findings are incorporated into existing understanding, sometimes even needing quite fundamental revisions of what we thought we knew.

One such branch of science is that of human evolution and dispersal out of Africa which is in an exciting phase at the moment as new archaeological discoveries are made and new techniques of DNA recovery and analysis are revealing genetic evidence of relationships and interbreeding.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Plagiarists For Jesus

Willaim Lane Craig. Accused of plagiarism
Christian Apologist William Lane Craig Accused of Plagiarizing Thesis.

In an article published yesterday by David G. Mcafee in the Patheos blog, No Sacred Cows, Christian apologist and apologist for faith-based genocide, William Lane Craig has been accused of plagiarising his Masters Degree thesis.

This accusation is not new; it has been around for several years, but has been given another airing by atheist, author and former student of William Lane Craig's, John W Loftus. Loftus has written extensively about Lane Craig's cowardice in refusing to debate him publicly despite Lane Craig making an issue of Richard Dawkins' refusal to give him a platform following his repugnant apologetic for the Canaanite genocide in which he presented infanticide as morally justifiable.

Friday, 1 December 2017

A Loving Nativity Scene That Christians Hate

Religious Conservatives Outraged By Gay Nativity ‘Sacrilege’

Apparently, conservative Christians are queuing up to be outraged by a Christmas nativity scene in a Los Angeles front garden that shows Jesus with two fathers.

It's not the pretty pink matching costumes that they're wearing but the fact that there are two of them which is causing the great gnashings of teeth and calls for retribution on the grounds of 'blasphemy'.

It was this Twitter tweet by Twitter user Cameron Esposito which sent them into a frothing-mouthed, venom-spitting spectacle on the social media.

But how is this a blaphemy? Isn't this exactly what the Bible says when it claims Jesus was the son of God, even making great play of the claim and basing the entire Christian religion on that claim, and also claiming Jesus was the son of Joseph and thus of the 'House of David' in fulfilment of a prophecy?

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Bigots Kicked Down Under!

The Australian Senate
Photo: Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE
The Senate Just Voted Down All The Conservative Amendments To The Same-Sex Marriage Bill

Following the stunning victory for basic human decency and those campaigning for an inclusive Australia in the same-sex marriage referendum recently, the Australian Senate handed out another kicking to the Christian bigots still looking for victims and demanding the right to persecute people of their choice.

According to this report by Lane Sainty in Buzz News, the Senate voted down by a large majority a series of amendments by the conservative Christian right that would have given Christians an effective veto on same-sex marriages and provided them with a legal right to continue to persecute and victimise homosexuals by denial of goods and services.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Still Not Yeti

Abominable Snowman? Nope. Study ties DNA samples from purported Yetis to Asian bears

Just like their religious myths, the myth of the Yeti is a central part of the folklore of Tibet and Nepal. In that respect if differs not at all from other mythologies, religious or otherwise from other parts of the world. Lots of anecdotes and stories of people who knew of someone who's acquaintance once met someone who saw a Yeti or accounts of people seeing a shadow in a blizzard.

In the case of the Yeti, however, there was maybe something a bit more substantial - a tuft of hair, some faeces, skin, teeth, even a bone or two.

The problem is, the people who purportedly found these bits of evidence and sold them to collectors and Yeti hunters never counted on modern forensics and especially nor on modern DNA recovery and analysis.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Muddling Through With 'Intelligently Designed' Mistakes!

Adaptive mechanisms such as activation and use of cryptic splice sites or alternative transcription start sites as well as nonsense-associated alternative splicing and skipped exons maintaining reading frame shore up a sea of mutations expected to cause premature translation termination and loss of function.
Artist: Neta Shwartz.
What can zebrafish teach us about our survival in the face of mutations? | Carnegie Institution for Science

What would you do if you were an intelligent, omniscient, omnipotent designer and found that your perfect design kept going wrong in unexpected and unpredictable ways?

Well, if you were a creationist intelligent designer it seems, you would still regard yourself as an omniscience, omnipotent, perfect designer but you would wouldn't improve your design so it didn't keep going randomly wrong - because it's already perfect! Instead, you would set about designing a clunky workaround that went some way towards rectifying those omniscient mistakes and you would settle for near enough is good enough - apparently.

This is (leaving out the intelligent designer nonsense) what researchers Steven Farber, Jennifer Anderson and colleagues, of the Carnegie Institution have show happens in the zebrafish to cope with detrimental mutations. Rather than putting up with mutations resulting in individuals failing and being removed from the population gene pool, zebrafish, and maybe lots of other species, have evolved mechanisms for coping with them by either neutralising them or at least minimising their detrimental effects.

According to the Carnegie Institution press release:

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Another Faith-Based Massacre

The al-Rawda Sufi mosque, Bir al-Abed, Sinai, Egypt
Photo credit: EAP
Egypt attack: Gunmen kill 235 in Sinai mosque - BBC News

Islamic jihadists believed to be affiliated to Islamic State (IS) have attacked a Sufi mosque in Sinai, killing at least 300 people, now revised upwards from the BBC News report.

The reason? Because the Islamic tradition of Sufism is considered heretical by fundamentalist Sunni Muslims, so obviously those who believe they know the mind of Allah believe Allah wants heretics killed and needs their help to kill them.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Malaria - Good News for Creationists as Trump Helps God!

World-wide incidence of malaria
(Note: the USA is mamaria-free)
The US President's Malaria Initiative, Plasmodium falciparum transmission and mortality: A modelling study

At last something for creationists of the ID persuasion to celebrate!

Remember, creationists believe that their intelligent (sic) designer is the god they claim is the maximally good giver of morals who always acts to maximise the good in a world which runs perfectly according to his omni-benevolent, omnipotent and omniscient plan.

The Brutal Despot and the Catholic Priest

Robert Mugabe.
"God has saved his life" - Fr. Mukonori
Photo credit: AP
Zimbabwe: Who is the Catholic priest behind Robert Mugabe? | Christianity today

As we say goodbye to the tyrannical psychopath who has run Zimbabwe for the last 30 years and the Zimbabwean people celebrate, let's look at the role of the Catholic Church and in particular the Catholic priest who was his confidante and most loyal supporter - Fr. Fidelis Mukonori.

Fr. Mukonori is a Jesuit priest and has been a friend of Robert Mugabe since before he came to power. During the independence struggle as ZANU-PF led by Mugabe and ZAPU led by Joshua Nkomo waged a guerilla war against the illegal white supremacist government under Ian Smith, Fr. Mukonori travelled around Zimbabwe - then called Rhodesia - under the cover of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Rhodesia, gathering information about the progress of the liberation struggle and passing it on to Mugabe.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Another Victory for Humanism Over Faith-Based Barbarity

Ratko Mladić, mass murdering war criminal
Ratko Mladic jailed for life over Bosnia war genocide - BBC News

Ratko Mladić, devout Orthodox Christian, the Butcher of Bosnia, has been found guilty by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague of crime against humanity for his part in the Bosnian Genocide in the early 1990's.

He has been on trial since 2012 since when he has been held at the Scheveningen prison in The Hague where he spends his days playing chess against his compatriot, coreligionist and fellow genocidist, Radovan Karadžić, former president of Serbia, who was convicted of genocide in 2016. The third member of the murderous regime that took over Serbia following the break up of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milošević, escaped conviction by dying during his trial.

Mladić, aged 74, has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

The crimes were committed in the series of wars which followed the break-up of former Yugoslavia when Orthodox Christian Serbia tried to exert control over neighbouring Bosnia and Croatia to create a 'Greater Serbia', maintaining the traditional Serbian domination of Yugoslavian politics.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Christians and Jews Unite to Defend Paedophilia

Rabbi Noson Shmuel Leiter, director of Help Rescue Our Children
Speaking in Birminham, ALabama in support of Roy Moore
New York rabbi lends support to Roy Moore at Birmingham rally | Southern Jewish Life Magazine.

Following close on American Christian fundamentalists discovering that their religion permits lying, sexually assaulting women, adultery, cheating, fraud and bullying when they discovered that Donald Trump represented all the values they stand for, they now seem to have realised what good and moral things paedophilia, sexual assault on and non-consensual sex with a minor are, with the Roy Moore affair.

Now we learn it's not just extremist Christians who have these conveniently flexible morals and an imaginary friend who approves of every abuse of power and antisocial, divisive and abusive policy you can think of when it suits your selfish ambitions. Some extremist Jews have the same flexibility it seems.

Evangelical Christian preachers seem to be vying for the best Bible-based apologia for Moor's alleged sexual abuse of young women including a fourteen year-old girl some years ago. It not only does not debar him from holding elected public office, but is makes him eminently suitable as a good Christian - apparently. They have just discovered that the Bible is full of child molestation and non-consensual sex (or 'rape' as we now call it) all done with the tacit approval of God or even on his orders. Why, even Jesus's own mother was a minor!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Evolving Creationists!

Old Order Amish, evolving - naturally
Why these Amish live longer and healthier: an internal ‘fountain of youth’ - Northwestern Now

Shocking news for creationists yesterday!

Fundamentalist Christian creationists have been caught evolving and breaking one of the sacred creationist dogmas - that all mutations are harmful and degenerative. This was discovered in a group of appropriately-named Old Order Amish from Indiana, USA.

Due to a mutation, they are living 10% longer compared to those members of the same Amish group without the mutation.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Two 'World Views'

Kingston University study reveals how food poisoning bacteria Campylobacter uses other organisms as Trojan horse to infect new hosts - News - Kingston University London

I heartily dislike the term world view. It's nothing more than an attempt to pretend that an opinion which isn't supported by the evidence is the equal of one that is. And that's a very convenient way to justify demanding the right to be taken seriously on any subject without bothering to learn anything about it.

A 'world view' that either eschews scientific evidence or actively rejects it is not an opinion based on an interpretation of the data; it's an opinion that ignores it.

But let's play this 'different world view' game that creationists play where they pretend they have looked at all the evidence and simply arrived at a different conclusion based on their 'world view' not the scientific 'world view' - which, so they would claim, is no more valid than their own!

A Victory for Human Decency in Australia

Australians celebrate victory over religious bigotry
Australians back gay marriage in non-binding vote - BBC News:

Great news from Australia!

In a non-binding 'advisory' postal vote, Australians have voted 61.6% in favour of legalising same-sex marriages on a 79.5% turnout. Unlike normal Australian voting where voting is compulsory, this referendum was voluntary, which makes this turnout even more remarkable.

On a regional basis, only 17 of the 150 electorates voted against the proposal "Should the marriage law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?" Australia's chief statistician, David Kalisch said, "This [turnout] is outstanding for a voluntary survey and well above other voluntary surveys conducted around the world. It shows how important this issue is to many Australians".

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Be Upstanding For Jesus

Paseka 'Mboro' Motsoeneng of the Incredible Happenings Ministry.
Photo credit: Sandile Ndlovu
Pastor demands footage of him reviving parishioner's erection be shown on TV | Metro News

A South African pastor is proclaiming a miraculous cure for impotence and demanding it be shown on Soweto television.

Pastor Paseka ‘Prophet Mboro’ Motsoeneng, of the Incredible Happenings Ministry in Katlehong, South Africa, will already be familiar to readers of this blog for his amazing powers (and amazing wealth). Only last July, on God's instructions, he went into Hell and killed Satan according to his announcement on his Facebook page (that was mysteriously taken down soon after it appeared - which had nothing to do with a very large number of complaints, obviously).

We can be sure this is true because Prophet Mboro is a Christian and it is forbidden for Christians to bear false witness, i.e., lie!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Religion Is Not Natural

The Camino de Santiago de Compostela
source: Wikipedia (CC-BY-SA 3.0)
Why do we believe in gods? Religious belief not linked to intuition or rational thinking, new research suggests

Are people born with the propensity to be religious, as some studies seem to have shown?

It is even claimed in some religious apologetic circles that somehow being religious is the natural state, either an evolved genetic predisposition, or, in fundamentalist creationist apologetics, that God intelligently designed us to be religious (obviously it couldn't have evolved, that would be heretical!).

Strangely, this god intelligently designed us to be religious but couldn't make us all have the 'one true religion'.

Of course, the bottom line is that somehow, atheism is unnatural, even perverse and definitely not something God intended.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

'Missing Link' in Abiogenesis Found!

Scientists find potential 'missing link' in chemistry that led to life on Earth

You know, sometimes I get carried away and fantasise about creationist frauds like Ham, Comfort and Hovind hearing the tune Aproaching Menace by Neil Richardson as they read yet another scientific paper showing how science is closing in on one of their sacred dogmas - that only God can create life.

But then I come back to reality and remember that they don't do science and evidence, so none of this makes any difference to them. They'll still claim it's impossible, knowing they can rely on their willing dupes not to check just in case.

Only three days ago I reported here on the work of a team from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA who are homing in on one of the pre-biotic precursors of one of the fundamental cell processes. Just a day later we had this paper published in Nature Chemistry showing how another fundamental process could similarly have arisen pre-biotically. The process is that of phosphorylation, i.e, adding a phosphate group to three key components of cells.

Human Kindness - In Bonobos!

Close primate cousins with whom we share 99 percent of our DNA, bonobos will help strangers even when there is no immediate payback, and without having to be asked first.
Photo credit: Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary.
Bonobos Help Strangers Without Being Asked | Duke Today

Bonobos and humans share some 99% of their genes so it's hardly surprising that we share some behavioural traits too.

As this news item from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA explains:

A passer-by drops something and you spring to pick it up. Or maybe you hold the door for someone behind you. Such acts of kindness to strangers were long thought to be unique to humans, but recent research on bonobos suggests our species is not as exceptional in this regard as we like to think.
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