Thursday, 26 May 2016

Are Theists Afraid of Something?

You know, theists seem a frightened little lot especially when it comes to even basic argument against 'faith'. They seem almost to be afraid you'll read something that makes them feel uncomfortable, as though they think it'll expose the vacuous nonsense they rely on to keep the flock of sheeple together. They'll do almost anything to deter you reading criticism, including abandoning even the basic principles of the 'morality' they claim their 'faith' gives them.

The important thing, so far as a theist is concerned, is keeping you from not thinking about your 'faith' rather than thinking about it and finding it worthless.

Take, for example this ludicrously inaccurate, anonymous 'review' of my book, Ten Reasons To Lose Faith: And Why You Are Better Off Without It.It was almost certainly posted by someone who isn't interested in truth since there is not a word of truth in it.

Recycled banal arguments already refuted by scholars. Don't waste your money on this junk. The book has many errors both in grammar and content. This author uses a fake name and plagiarizes other atheists. This book is poor scholarship and offers nothing new. The conclusions that she comes up with are illogical and based on anecdotal inferences, not logic or reason. Over 90% of the book is meandering and doesn't make any points. The reader will get bored and will realize that this author is an amateur and has no academic credentials.

Monday, 23 May 2016

How Evolution Works - Evolving Ichthyosaurs

A large aberrant stem ichthyosauriform indicating early rise and demise of ichthyosauromorphs in the wake of the end-Permian extinction : Scientific Reports

A nice example this week of how a major, possibly the main, driver of evolution is not as creationists pretend science says, random mutation, but environmental change. It also seems to go some way to solving something of a mystery in marine evolution during the period following the end-Permian mass extinction.

The Permian Era came to an abrupt end about 250 million years ago when increased volcanic activity and climate change and led to rising sea levels causing the extinction of ninty-six percent of all marine life. Unlike terrestrial metazoans which radiated rapidly to fill the newly-vacated ecological niches this mass extinction provided, the marine reptiles were thought to have evolved much more slowly.

Monday, 16 May 2016

A Whale of a Problem For Creationism!

Hector's beaked whale found at Waitpinga Beach
Photo credit: South Australian Museum
Rare whale found on Australian beach believed to be evolutionary throwback | Science | The Guardian

A problem which creationists have to cope with, normally by simply ignoring or denying the evidence, is the problem of redundant structures and genes. These frequently appear in organisms which do not need them any more and look for all the world like they were once needed in an earlier ancestor. They may even still be present in a related species as evidence of common descent.

One of these is the genes for making egg yolk which are still present in placental mammals - which don't have eggs with yolk in them. In humans we have the wonderful example of wisdom teeth which seem to be there now only to provide work for dentists. They are entirely consistent with the fossil evidence that the human maxilla and mandible have become reduced during evolution but our dentistry hasn't kept up with the changes due to a lack of selection pressure, probably because impacted wisdom teeth tend not to inhibit reproduction very much.

Sac Watch - Doppy Dotus Does It Again!

Manuel de Dios Agosto (aka Sacerdotus and very many other aliases) - one of the least competent Internet beggars and frauds in the business - really does take some beating for sheer stupidity on a quite astonishing scale.

Readers may remember his very long list of Twitter atheists. He spent several days compiling it in a desperate attempt to get people to file false reports on them to get them shut down because they were exposing his scams and refuting his lies, only to discover that he had blundered stupidly into compiling one of the best source lists of atheists to follow. This rapidly became 'Manny's List' which indignant atheists soon began complaining of being omitted from.

Now it seems he did it again in even more spectacular style! This time he's compiled and published a list of blog posts about himself that he doesn't want anyone reading! No, honestly!

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Evolving a Loss of Complexity!

First eukaryotes found without a normal cellular power supply | Science | AAAS

One of the problems creationism suffers from, apart from not having any supporting evidence, is that it relies almost entirely on dogma. One such dogma, for example, is that scientists believe evolution is all about life progressing from the simple to the complex and that somehow all evolutionary change must involve an increase in complexity.

Yes, I know this is nonsensical and at odds with the facts, but that's the point of dogma; it means evidence doesn't need to be bothered with because the truth is 'known' by fiat. The dogma says so...

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Carrot Evolution And Creationism

A high-quality carrot genome assembly provides new insights into carotenoid accumulation and asterid genome evolution:

Can there be any other group of people who cling to a belief so tenaciously in spite of all the evidence against it as creationists?

I suppose, to be fair, there are climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers, moon landing conspiracy nut-jobs and other associated wack-a-doodle cults, but there can be few who do it with such fanaticism as creationists. There just doesn't appear to be any connection between their fanatically-held beliefs and what the evidence shows to be true. For example, a central dogma of creationsm is that mutaions are

Friday, 6 May 2016

Why You Need To Lose Faith

Another excerpt from my book, Ten Reasons To Lose Faith: And Why You Are Better Off Without It,this time explaining why you would be better off without faith and by embracing the doubt and uncertainty that comes from acceptance of evidence as the only basis for making rational decisions.

It is not insignificant that for everyday life, and for any activity where material reality has to be taken into account, the only way to make rational decisions is to behave atheistically. The simple task of crossing a road is the same for an atheist as for a theist, even though a theist might want to mutter a few prayers as well. In the end, it is the physical evidence that the road is safe to cross that determines the appropriate action.

Atheists and theists leaving a sinking ship must go through exactly the same process of getting into a lifeboat even though the theist might spend a moment in prayer. Only the most insane of theist would decline to get in a lifeboat believing a god would be along to save them shortly. In effect, theists crossing a road or theists getting into a lifeboat are behaving just like atheists. Even Christians have a saying, ‘God helps those who help themselves’, to explain why people need to behave like atheists in everyday life. That rather begs the question though of why the Christian god would favour people who behave like atheists.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

A Crisis of Faith

The phenomenon of the 'crisis of faith' is curious. Theology must be the only academic discipline where practitioners regularly have severe doubt about their subject being real. A 'crisis of faith' should more properly called an intrusion of reality, as common sense tries to take over and allow reality in.

The following is an excerpt from my book, Ten Reasons To Lose Faith: And Why You Are Better Off Without It,dealing with this curious phenomenon that seems to be an occupational hazard in clerical circles.

There is probably a very good evolutionary explanation for the tendency to check the evidence before making a life or death decision. Those who did not check had a greatly reduced likelihood of passing on their genes, so the genes for not bothering about evidence would tend to lose out in competition with their counterparts which regarded evidence as important.

So, when it comes to life and death decisions in real life, normal people not only rely on evidence but look for it and regard it as the best available basis for the decision. Importantly, they regard absence of evidence of cars as perfectly reliable evidence of the absence of cars. Why would they not? What would be the purpose of looking for evidence then regarding its presence or absence as evidence of the same thing?

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Why Dinosaur-Birds Evolved Beaks

Diet affects the evolution of birds -- ScienceDaily

One of the nicest things about studying biology, and particularly evolutionary biology, is the way it all dovetails neatly into place and fits in with, for example, climate change, geology, etc., to form a complete coherent picture that tells us not only why things are as they appear today but how.

For example, we it take for granted that there will be birds around. The world as we know it would be quite a different world without birds. Flowering trees might not have small berries; humans might not have colour vision because our simian ancestors would not have needed to recognise ripe fruit by the colour change that signals to birds that the fruit is ripe.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Evolution or Sadistic, Idiot Designer?

(A) Two males on a parasitized A. vaga (Osnabrück, 10.ii.2008).
(B) Five males on a parasitized host (Osnabrück, 23.ii.2008).
Photographs © W. Rutkies.
Traumatic insemination and female counter-adaptation in Strepsiptera (Insecta)

Parasitism itself, with it's inevitable arms race as the host evolves to combat the parasite and the parasite evolves to overcome its host's defenses is a major embarrassment to anyone trying to believe in any intelligence behind living things, or even intelligent evolution because, frankly, arms races are not intelligent.

But, even more of an embarrassment to intelligent (sic) design advocates, especially those who unashamedly link it to biblical literalism complete with the Christian god as the magic creator, are the exquisitely nasty mechanism some parasites have evolved. Their sheer malevolent nastiness precludes design by a benevolent designer and cannot possibly be presented as the work of a loving god or anything approaching one.

Friday, 29 April 2016

What? No Flood? - Australia's 50,000 Year History

Australian Aborginals have one of the oldest histories of any peoples, dating back 50,000 years.
Photo Credit: Rusty Stewart/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Deep Roots for Aboriginal Australian Y Chromosomes: Current Biology

If you are a creationist who insists that Earth is somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 years old and that everyone save for a single family living in the Middle East were drowned in a global flood about 4,000 years ago, it really doesn't help that you have no evidence for that claim.

Imagine then having to cope with scientists continually coming up with evidence that it couldn't possibly be true! Evidence that modern humans have lived continuously and with little or no contact with other human groups, for 50,000 years in a single continent, for example.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Pope Francis And The Predatory Priest

Father Joseph Jeyapaul – ABC News
Sexual abuse case: US woman files lawsuit against Indian Bishop

You might think, with all the fanfare of publicity surrounding Pope Francis' 'reforms' of the Catholic Church in view of the tidal wave of child abuse scandals engulfing it, that something might have actually changed.

Well, that was what you were supposed to think, of course, but, as so often with the Catholic Church, what they actually do bears scant relationship to what they say they will do, or what they say others should do. For example, weren't we led to believe that predatory

Another of Those 'Non-existent' Transitional Forms!

Artist's impression of the amphibious ichthyosaur, Cartorhynchus lenticarpus, crawling over dry land
Credit: University of California at Davis.
Photograph: Stefano Broccoli/PA
A basal ichthyosauriform with a short snout from the Lower Triassic of China : Nature : Nature Publishing Group

I'm beginning to wonder if creationists are using a private definition of 'non-existent'; a definition that includes not only existent but lots of examples and evidence of existence. It's one of the weirdest aspects of creationism that relies so heavily on simple, repetitive denial of the evidence and the assertion that what can be clearly seen just isn't there, and yet it is firmly believed by so many people.

Here, for example, is yet another example of one of those transitional fossils that creationist fraud tell their willing dupes almost daily do not exist, even claiming that 'evolutionists' have been searching for years for one and have never found any. To be fair, this one was only reported a little over a year ago, so creationist frauds probably won't have thought up an excuse to dismiss it yet, so won't have mentioned it on one of their disinformation sites.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Dung Beetles Bury Creationism

Phylogeny of the Oniticellini and Onthophagini dung beetles (Scarabaeidae, Scarabaeinae) from morphological evidence

You might think that dung beetles are not especially interesting but to an entomologist, they are a fascinating and diverse group of beetles, often performing ecologically-essential functions such as burying dung, improving soil nutrient content and even distributing seeds.

However, very many species do not do the classic dung beetle thing of rolling dung into balls and burying in the ground as food for their grubs. Some feed on fungi; some have formed a close association with termites and some even eat dead arthropods such as millipedes.

Now Dr T. Keith Philips, a biologist with Western Kentucky University, Kentucky, USA has worked out that the two main tribes, the onthophagines and oniticellines, which comprise the vast majority of dung beetles, and which are distributed worldwide except for Antarctica, evolved from a single common ancestor.

A phylogenetic study was conducted to hypothesize relationships of most of the genera of the Oniticellini and Onthophagini for the first time using morphological characters from a diverse array of external and internal sclerites. The monophyly and sister relationship of both tribes was found using Bayesian and parsimony analyses with heavily to moderately weighted data. An alternative hypothesis based on parsimony analyses of unweighted or slightly weighted data show a paraphyletic Oniticellini without the Onthophagini, although recognition of the subtribe Helictopleurina as a tribe would eliminate non-monophyly.

Of the three Oniticellini subtribes, the Helictopleurina and Drepanocerina are monophyletic. There is no support for the monophyly of the Oniticellina or the Onthophagini subtribe Alloscelina, as currently defined. The genus Liatongus is paraphyletic, while strong support was found for monophyly of the Madagascan genus, Helictopleurus. The genus Onthophagus is never monophyletic in any analysis performed. Two new subtribes are also proposed: Liatongina subtr. n. including the genus Liatongus and Attavicina subtr. n. including the genera Attavicinus and Paroniticellus.

Topological evidence shows that the ancestral oniticellines and onthophagines were all coprophagous with alternative food sources evolving relatively recently. Both myrmecophily and termitophily probably evolved only once in the onthophagines. The phylogenetic analysis supports an African origin for the two tribes, with a relatively early age for the split of the Madagascar helictopleurines from the remaining oniticellines via dispersal. Furthermore, the presence of the oniticellines in the New World is hypothesized to be due to two relatively old dispersal events via Beringia and two relatively recent trans-Atlantic invasions of the Caribbean.

Copyright © The author. Reprinted under terms of Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY 4.0)

The interesting this here is how this group has evolved from a single, coprophagous, African ancestor and spread worldwide, diversifying into non-coprophagous species fairly recently. Divergence and distribution fit neatly into known plate tectonic geology and the entire family tree only makes sense as the result of evolution into different geographical and ecological niches.

Once again, we see a scientific paper by a biologist who seems to be completely unaware that, if creationist claims are correct, evolutionary theory is a theory in crisis and is no longer regarded as valid by a large number of biologists. In fact, curiously, there don't seem to be any serious science papers published by practicing biologists that show any awareness that the theory of evolution is not the best available explanation for biological diversity, morphology, physiology and genetics.

Perhaps one of my creationist readers would like to explain this curious disparity between what can be seen and what they claim...

'via Blog this'

How Science Works - Evolving Mammoths

Frontiers | Mammuthus Population Dynamics in Late Pleistocene North America: Divergence, Phylogeography and Introgression | Paleontology

To the delight of creationists no doubt, evolutionary paleontologists are changing their minds about North American mammoth evolution.

To most black-and-white-thinking creationists and other science deniers, science is either right or wrong and, since scientists frequently update their knowledge and understanding, to most of them this shows science is always wrong. It isn't of course; it's just science being honest and revising it opinion in view of new information. Science isn't so much a process of proving what's right and what's wrong as a process of gaining more understanding through new or better knowledge.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Evolution Observed in Darwin's Finch

Meduim ground finch, Geospiza fortis
A beak size locus in Darwin’s finches facilitated character displacement during a drought | Science

Every now and then we get an exquisitely simple and irrefutable example of evolution being witnessed and reported with supporting data. Despite this, however, creationists continue to deny that evolution occurs and continue to chant their dogmatic insistence that it has never been observed.

Firstly, the scientific evidence:

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Moral Compass - Pastor Says Raping a Child Same as Stealing Candy

Senior Pastor Michael Orten of The Truth Apostolic Church, Madisonville, KY
As a Humanist I have no problem at all with the idea that someone could make a mistake when young and then realise the error of their ways and turn their lives around. I don't believe people should pay for the rest of their lives for mistakes they make in their youth. I believe in the redemptive power of real atonement and prefer to think that all people deserve to be given another chance.

So I have no problem with the idea that a sex offender who has spent time in jail could acknowledge his crimes, reform his character and be a gainfully employed useful member of society, provided if, as in this case where the offence was committed against a child, parents of children in the area know about it.

But what this story demonstrates is the strange morals of Pastor Orten of The Truth Apostolic Church in Madisonville, Kentucky.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

And This Week's 'Non-Existent' Transitional Form Is...

Cryptotora thamicola.
Tetrapod-like pelvic girdle in a walking cavefish : Scientific Reports

There are enough of these 'non-existent' transitional fossils to fill a large museum and several more are added most months, as a scan of the relevant scientific literature will show. This doesn't stop creationist frauds telling their dupes that there aren't any of course, but then where would they be without false claims and misrepresentations of the scientific facts?

One of the transitions that excites creationists the most is that between fish and the early terrestrial tetrapods (salamander-like limbed vertebrates). Despite the example of Tiktaalik and Eusthenopteron with incontrovertible features mid-way between fish and salamanders, they continue to insist on either denying they exist altogether or arbitrarily designating them as either fish or salamanders. This is intended to avoid the embarrassment that they are quite obviously both because, at that stage in the evolution of terrestrial tetrapods, they had not diverged from fish.

One of the slightly more sophisticated arguments creationists use to dismiss the evidence is the argument that the change

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Holy Smoke and Mirrors! Heavenly Selfies With Jesus!

Meet Paseka Motsoeneng, aka, Mboro.

Pastor Motsoeneng, of the Incredible Happenings Church in Katlehong, South Africa, is personal friends with Jesus who was so impressed by Motsoeneng's devotion that he invited him up to Heaven last Easter Sunday and invited him to take lots of selfies on his G5 Galaxy iphone. No! Honestly!

There is no doubt about this because we have the word of a Christian pastor, Paseka Motsoeneng aka Mboro, that it happened and he has the photographs to prove it. He even offered to sell copies of these selfies for a mere £238-266 each, although why he

Sunday, 10 April 2016

What The Critics Say! Ten Good Reasons To Buy It!

My latest book, Ten Reasons To Lose Faith: And Why You Are Better Off Without It is already receiving critical acclaim from readers:

..and this book shows nicely why it is better to let go of it ... (5 stars)

This is a cracking read from the author of the Rosa Rubicondior blogs. If you aren't familiar with them then I would suggest you rectify that.
Faith is a pernicious thing, and this book shows nicely why it is better to let go of it and walk away. Religion is a drug, and faith is its pusher, binding people more and more closely to religion.
Read the book. It says it all better than I can.

Whichever side of the fence you sit - read this! (5 stars)

Ten very good reasons. Easy to read and clearly written.


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