Sunday, 29 March 2015

Dutch Catholics Vindictively Castrated Abused Boys.

Harreveld Catholic boys home, Netherlands, were at least ten boys were abused by monks then vindictively castrated.
Most people are probably familiar with the way the Catholic Church used to routinely castrate choir boys before puberty to prevent their voices breaking so they could provide the 'female' voices in cathedral choirs. Obviously women couldn't be allowed in church choirs because the Bible forbade women to speak in church:

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.
1 Corinthians 14:34-35

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Moral Compass - The Catholic Church and Excommunication

Fr. Jose Mercau, Excommunicated
Last November, Pope Francis defrocked and excommunicated a convicted paedophile priest from Argentina. Of course, many priests have been excommunicated by the Catholic Church before, but the case of Fr. Jose Mercau was unusual; he is one of the only Catholic priests to have been excommunicated for sexual abuse (technically rape) of a minor.

Pope Francis was apparently trying to convince the world that the Catholic Church had recognised the error of its ways and would no longer tolerate, facilitate and protect priests and nuns who abused children and vulnerable adults and now took a dim view of these previously accepted clerical recreational pass-times.

More Fascist Catholics

Fr. Josef Tiso with his friend and role model, Adolf Hitler
In addition to their close involvement in creating the first fascist state in Europe in Portugal, and their support for Italian and Spanish fascism, the Catholic Church was actively involved in another even more extreme fascist regime in Slovakia.

Unlike Portugal and Spain which stayed out of World War II and have no history of sending Jews to Hitler's slave labour and death camps, Slovakia, under the leadership of a Catholic priest and fascist dictator, Fr. Josef Tiso, enthusiastically shipped around 60% of Slovakian Jews (over 52,000 of the population of 89,000) to the death camps, mostly Auschwitz.

Mother Teresa and the Paedophile Priest

Fr. Donald McGuire, Jesuit, serial paedophile and spiritual advisor to Mother Teresa
Catholicism's favourite new demi-saint, "The Blessed" Teresa of Calcutta, was a friend of a paedophile priest and intervened to get him reinstated in his parish, where he subsequently carried on with his predatory paedophilia, sexually abusing more boys before finally being arrested and imprisoned.

This was revealed in papers leaked to the San Francisco newspaper, SF Weekly in January 2012.

The priest in question was Fr. Donald McGuire, currently serving a 25 year sentence for what the judge described as:

[P]articularly detestable because he abused the trust of parents and had perversely taken advantage of their children. [His Actions were] abhorrent, unacceptable, and‘a very, very serious sin.

USA District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer
(quoted in Chicago Sun Times online, February 11th, 2009)

This sentence exceeded federal guidelines for sentencing for these offences because Judge Pallmeyer felt the crimes were exceptionally serious.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Even Monkeyflowers Ridicule Creationists

M. lewisii (A), an F1 hybrid (B), M. cardinalis (C), and examples of variation in floral traits found in F2 hybrids (D–L).
Pollinator preference and the evolution of floral traits in monkeyflowers (Mimulus)

Imagine for a moment a species of flowering plant with a three important genes, each of which has two different alleles. Let's say Gene A which can be A1 or A2, gene B which can be B1 or B2 and gene C which can be C1 or C2. Gene A determining flower shape, gene B determining flower colour and gene C determining how much nectar the flower produces.

Now imagine two different pollinators which transfer pollen from one flower to another while gathering nectar, one having a preference for one shape and colour and the other having a preference for a different colour and more nectar.

It doesn't take a genius to work out what will happen. The flowers with the alleles which attract one pollinator are much more likely to pollinate other flowers with those same alleles and those with the other alleles will be much more likely to pollinate the flowers with these alleles.

In effect, there will be a premating or 'prezygotic' barrier to cross-pollination between plants with different combinations of alleles and selection pressure against permutations of alleles

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Seeing Evidence Of Inept Design

Müller cells separate between wavelengths to improve day vision with minimal effect upon night vision : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group

Although they will probably deny it, even creationists must be aware of the inept design that is the vertebrate eye where the retina is wired backwards, so the nerves from the photoreceptor have to travel towards the source of light then across the surface of the retina to join up with the main optic nerve and finally back down through the retina, causing the 'blind spot' - an area of the retina where light doesn't register.

Our neural circuitry has to infill this area for us so we don't notice it. Consequently, there is a small risk that we won't notice pieces of grit, small flies and other foreign bodies that get in our eyes, and the nerves going in the 'wrong' direction inevitably create a barrier for the light to get through.

In effect, the photoreceptors are are actually shielded by their circuitry. It's like the designer of a digital camera putting all the wiring and processors between the lens and the detector. Creationists call this 'intelligent'.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Catholicism's New York Meltdown

St Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie, New York, USA
Patric D’Arcy Is N.Y. Archdiocese’s Only New Priest - NYTimes.com

I came across this while researching for another blog and it illustrates just how low Catholic fortunes have sunk in New York since the world-wide scandals of physical and sexual abuses of minors and other vulnerable people began to hit the Church.

In 2012, the Catholic Church in New York ordained a priest by the name of Patric D'Arcy. Nothing remarkable in that you might think.

However, he was the only one to be ordained in that year. In the 1960s the average was somewhere

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Mother Teresa's Fake Miracle

On the subject of the Catholic Church's faked miracles, in the style of a phony televangelist or 'faith healer' fraudster, we have the example of the faked Mother Teresa 'miracle' which was used as evidence to support her accelerated beatification by the Vatican when poor old Pope John Paul II was in his dotage and had been reduced to reading prepared speeches in an almost inaudible voice.

Mother Teresa (real name, Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu) head and absolute ruler of the 'Missionaries of Charity' order had been carefully building up a reputation for caring for the poor sick and dying when

Pope Francis Faking It In Naples

Pope Francis showed his honesty and personal integrity by participating in the fake 'miracle' of appearing to turn the dried blood of a saint into liquid blood in front of a crowd in Naples gathered at the cathedral to witness this conjuring trick, which is performed three time a year, and so fool the credulous masses into thinking he has magic powers and is somehow chanelling the long-dead, legendary first bishop of Naples, Saint Januarius, or San Gennaro as he is known localy. Inhabitants believe he keeps Naples safe from the overlooking Vesuvius volcano.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Creationist Nightmare Approaches

Chemists claim to have solved riddle of how life began on Earth

The creationist nightmare scenario came a little closer a couple of days ago when a team of scientists published a paper in the Journal of Nature Chemistry, demonstrating that the three chemical precursors for building the basic components of a cell - RNA, lipids and proteins - can all be built by the same chemical process.

The nightmare scenario for creationists is of course the closure of one of the few remaining gaps in which they arbitrarily sit their favourite god and claim this proves its existence. This transparently circular reasoning and deliberate use of the false dichotomy fallacy is also a major plank in the under cover, pseudoscientific form of creationism, intelligent (sic) design. The belief seems to be that, if they can find something science can't currently explain then the only alternative explanation on offer is that their imaginary invisible friend did it. In normal life this form of argument would be seen as laughingly childish but religion has managed to get away with it for centuries.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Faith-Inspired Genocidists To Face Trial

Bosniak victims of faith-based Christian genocidists
BBC News - Serbia arrests seven over 1995 Srebrenica massacre

News that the former Yugoslavian states of Bosnia and Serbia are cooperating over war-crimes committed during the Bosnian war marks a welcome replacement by humanist standards of the murderous faith-based morality which led to the Bosnian genocide of Muslims by Orthodox Christian neo-Nazi fundamentalists, and acceptance that those who committed these atrocities weren't nationalist heroes but murderous thugs whose religion told them killing people for having the 'wrong' religion was the right thing to do.

Giant Arctic Camels And Another Gap Closes

Giant Arctic camels (Artist's impression)
Image credit: Julius Csotonyi PR
Mid-Pliocene warm-period deposits in the High Arctic yield insight into camel evolution | Nature Communications

Modern camels come in two species - the one-humped dromedary or Arabian camel (Camelus dromedarius) and the two-humped Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus). Although both exist in their wild forms in central Asia, they are normally seen as the domesticated beasts of burden in Arabia and the Horn of Africa. Their closest relatives are the South American guanaco (Lama glama) (domesticated as the llama) and vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) (domesticated as the alpaca).

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Science Closes Another Gap - God Still Not Found

Macrauchenia patachonica (Artist's impression)
Ancient proteins resolve the evolutionary history of Darwin’s South American ungulates | Nature/

News that evolutionary biology has closed another gap and found no gods in it, left creationists totally uninterested again today.

The gap was one that Darwin pondered over - the origin of two of the recently-extinct (geologically speaking) South American ungulates. They seemed to be a mixture of hippopotamus, rhinoceros, rodent, camel, and even elephant in that they appeared to have a small trunk. Some biologists had suggested they may be related to African species such as elephants or aardvarks while others thought they may be related to South American species like armadillos and sloths.

Creationism Fails Again - Human Evolution in 2014

Like 2013, 2014 has been another very bad year for creationism as more and more of those 'missing' intermediate fossils are found and the human evolutionary story becomes more and more complete.

Perhaps I should say it's been a good year for those who might be tempted to believe the disinformation put out by creationist pseudoscientists but who still remain objective and open to evidence and reason.

Diehard fundamentalist creationists of course will remain stoically and proudly resistant to evidence, no matter how strong it may be, simply waving it away as wrong or lies, so we are never going to see a committed creationist, least of all one who earns a living by misinforming others, announcing that this or that piece of evidence has convinced them that they have been wrong all along. In many cases, that degree of honesty would be more than their job's worth and would earn them the immediate approbrium of their colleagues.

This little list was produced by a quick search of the science magazine sites. I don't claim it to be exhaustive or even particularly representative, only a random sample of the sort of science shedding light on the human evolutionary story and the way it is growing and being

Monday, 16 March 2015

Pope Francis May Soon Throw In The Towel


And it's goodnight from him...
Pope Francis says he 'doesn't mind' being Pope but wishes he could go out for a pizza unrecognised - People - News - The Independent

Will the Catholic world soon have three popes in the Vatican?

That was the clear implication of Pope Francis' strong hint again that he might retire early like his immediate predecessor Benedict XVI. In an interview with the Mexican TV station, Televista, to mark his second anniversary he said he longed for anonymity and a private life and even hinted that his retirement might be very soon.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Is This Bronx Scam Artist Getting Too Greedy?

Minister Creflo Dollar asked parishioners to buy him a $65 million dollar jet for Jesus « Why Evolution Is True

Bronx-based Manuel de Dios Agosto is going to have to do much better if he is to come anywhere close to matching another Bronx-based religious scam artist who has just asked his victims followers to stump up for a brand new $60 million top of the range G650 Gulfstream jet for him and his family.

The humorously named Creflo Augustus Dollar,

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Religion and Mental Illness

Religious Fundamentalism 'May Be Categorised As Mental Illness & Cured By Science'

The opinion that extremist religious beliefs in particular may be symptoms of mental disorder and psychiatric illness seems to gaining ground in informed neurophysiology and psychiatry circles, though this is hardly news to those of us who spend a while trying to engage religious fundamentalists and creationist in intelligent debate on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

Psychosis and paranoia often seem to be endemic in these people, for example the unfortunate individual whom I stopped trying to engage on Facebook recently when he told me he

Friday, 13 March 2015

Catholic Child Abuse, St.Josephs, Bronx

Father Robert Harrison
Bronx School Ousts Priest After Admissions of Abuse - NYTimes.com

An assistant principal at Cardinal Hayes Catholic High School in Bronx, New York, has been dismissed for sexually abusing ten minors in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Rev. Robert Harrison, of the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St.Josephs, had worked at the school since 1989. The abuses came to light just before last Christmas when it was discovered that Father Harrison was borrowing money from colleagues at the school. When asked why, he admitted it was to pay an abuse victim. He then admitted to the sexual abuse of other boys in Manhattan, Milwaukee and the Bronx during the 1970s and 1980s. None of the abuse victims are believed to have been students at Cardinal Hayes High School.

A spokesman for the province said that none of the victims had ever reported the abuse.

Creationists All At Sea Over Water On Earth

Ganymede
Huge ocean confirmed underneath solar system’s largest moon | Science/AAAS | News

To read a creationist disinformation site, you'd think Earth was the only body in the Solar System - the entire Universe even - to have water, and that the only explanation for how it all got there must be that a magic man magicked it all.

Take this piece of scientific illiteracy and Bible babble, or this attempt to mislead their victims by Creation Misinstries International about the discovery that there is a lot of water bound up in hydrated minerals in Earth's mantle - a false claim that was so easy to predict at the time.

Clearly, creationists pseudoscientist frauds would like their dupes to believe that the presence of water on Earth is some sort of scientific mystery; a miracle - another gap in which to sit their god and explain with "God did it!" Water is, of course, essential for life on

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Church Claims Religious Freedom to Cheat Abuse Victims

Cardinal Timothy Dolan
Archbishop of New York, former Archbishop of Milwaukee.
Catholic Church Claims It Can Refuse To Pay Victims Of Sex Abuse Because Of Religious Freedom | ThinkProgress:

The Catholic diocese of Milwaukee has suffered a setback in its attempt to avoid its moral responsibilities to the victims of its abusive priests. Its former archbishop, Timothy Dolan, now a cardinal and Archbishop of New York, had tried to insulate its funds by transferring $55 million into a trust fund for maintaining the diocese's cemeteries and mausoleums, then claiming they were not the Church's funds but belonged to the Trust, so the Church had no money with which to compensate its victims, and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Recent Evolution In The Caribbean.

Prehistoric fighting conch Strombus puglis (L) and modern shells of the same species (R) show how the shellfish has decreased in size over time.
Image credit: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute/Aaron O'Dea
Evidence of size-selective evolution in the fighting conch from prehistoric subsistence harvesting.

Scientists working for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute have discovered a lovely example of environmental change driving evolution, this time the environmental change being the presence of humans who predated on the Caribbean fighting conch, Strombus puglis, as a source of food.

Juveniles of this species live in muddy sediments and only emerge to mate when they reach sexual maturity - at which point they become easy for humans to catch - but only after they have developed a thick outer lip as a protection from predators. This means that having attained sexual maturity can be assessed in ancient shells by measuring the thickness of this lip.

Careful observation and measurement of modern

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Can The 'Intelligent Designer' Get Any Nastier?

Dinocampus coccinellae
Who is the puppet master? Replication of a parasitic wasp-associated virus correlates with host behaviour manipulation | The Royal Society Proceedings B.

Here's a pretty little insect from the wasp family. Like a lot of members of this family, it is a parasitoid species, the females of which lay their eggs in the living bodies of other creatures, often other insects. This particular one, Dinocampus coccinellae, lays its eggs in ladybirds.

For several weeks an infected ladybird will carry on hunting aphids as though nothing much is happening and oblivious of the maggot growing inside it and eating its internal organs, apart from those essential to the ladybird, obviously. The ladybird needs to be kept

Monday, 9 March 2015

Evolution of a Strange Pair of Geese

The thing about knowing you don't know all the answers, but also knowing that nature is amenable to reason, is that when you see something that makes you curious, you know you will probably find the answer if you look hard enough. With nature, that answer will be interesting, thought-provoking and will mean you will understand nature just a little better.

We saw these two wild geese on on lake near Oxford the other day when we went for a long country walk with our grandson and his parents. My grandson would much rather talk about Minecraft and wasn't even interested when I showed him the hole where the little gall wasp came out of an oak-apple gall - how can that not be interesting? He'll soon be old enough to have that copy of Richard Dawkins' "The Magic Of Reality" I bought him when he was about 4.

Anyway, what we noticed about these geese was that, while they are obviously a pair and the one on the right is a perfectly normal-looking greylag goose, the other was a slightly odd-looking Canada goose. Canada geese are an alien species in Britain but have spread very rapidly throughout the Thames Valley and beyond.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

2013. Another Very Bad Year For Creationism.

The Most Fascinating Human Evolution Discoveries of 2013 | Observations, Scientific American Blog Network

This is another of those articles I stored away intending to deal with later, but then left them to sink towards the bottom of the stack as other topics intervened. It deals with the most significant discoveries related to the evolution of modern humans in just one year - 2013. It goes without saying that a number of them involved more of those pesky 'intermediate forms' creationists are having to work so hard to ignore so they can pretend there aren't any.

The list is based on an article by Kate Wong, published in Scientific American in January 2014. The commentary is mine. Feel free to hit creationists over the head with it.

No Soul? Rats!

Nobel prize find: search for ‘soul of rat’ revealed brain’s navigation system | Science | The Guardian

I meant to write a commentary on this at the time, but it just kept getting shuffled down the stack as other topics intervened. Last year's Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was shared by Professor John O'Keefe, University College London, for his work on understanding how the brain maps the world around us so we can navigate. He jokingly claims he was looking for the soul of the rat when he discovered 'place cells'. It has now been found by Edvard and May-Brit Moser, that these 'place cells' form a grid of recorded coordinates.

We have known for some time that the hippocampus is involved since a UCL team led by Eleanor Maguire found that as London Taxicab drivers acquire 'The Knowledge' their hippocampus enlarges. 'The knowledge', for those who haven't heard of it is the detailed street knowledge London Black Cab drivers must demonstrate before they qualify for their licence to operate.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Beware of Abusive Imitations

Please Note: This is my only blog.

Others purporting to be by me or bearing my ident will contain plagiarised and altered material from this site or material presented as being by me. They will usually be run and maintained by a well-know unemployable Internet abuser, fraud and expelled Catholic seminarian who appears to have developed an obsessive fascination with me, bordering on the psychotic and who seems to be trying to ride piggy-back on my popularity to lure traffic to his beggar blogs.

Go to his blog and you will find well over 60 articles fantasising about me with all manner of lurid tales. Bear in mind though that he will count the hit as a triumph and routinely deletes comments he doesn't want others to read.

You can read about him here.

Still Making A Difference - Thankyou

Great news that my AdSense account has reached another payment threshold, so I have donated it to Oxfam again.


This donation also benefits from the UK Government's UKAid scheme which doubles donations, in effect making it £140, plus another 25p per pound donated in GiftAid as a UK tax-payer.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Yet Another of Those 'Missing' Transitional Fossils

Fossil jawbone with distinctly hominid teeth
Photo: Arizona State University/Kaye Reed
BBC News - 'First human' discovered in Ethiopia

A fossil lower jawbone with five intact teeth, discovered in 2013 in the Afar region of Ethiopia, may well have pushed back the earliest known hominid by about 400,000 years to 2.8 million years ago. The huge significance of this, if it turns out to be true, is that it sits neatly in time and place between the undoubtedly australopithecine Australopithecus afarensis from the same area about 3 million years ago and the undoubtedly hominid Homo habilis, from about 2.4 million years ago, previously the earliest known hominid.

The key to this new find is the distinctly hominid small teeth. In our evolutionary history, teeth reduced in size

Unreasonable Faith - Robert G. Ingersoll

Why is Robert G. Ingersoll not better known in America, or the rest of the world, for that matter? He wrote and spoke with such power and passion, and regard for truth and honesty above all, that his writing is a joy to read, more lyrical even than that of Thomas Paine and worthy of Christopher Hitchens at his best.

Here he is delivering a 'Thanksgiving Sermon'. This is a cut-down version; the full sermon can be read here.

A THANKSGIVING SERMON.

MANY ages ago our fathers were living in dens and caves. Their bodies, their low foreheads, were covered with hair. They were eating berries, roots, bark and vermin. They were fond of snakes and raw fish. They discovered fire and, probably by accident, learned how to cause it by friction. They found how to warm themselve — to fight the frost and storm. They fashioned clubs and rude weapons of stone with which they killed the larger beasts and now and then each other. Slowly, painfully, almost imperceptibly they advanced. They crawled and stumbled, staggered and struggled toward the light. To them the world was unknown. On every hand was the mysterious, the sinister, the hurtful. The forests were filled with monsters, and the darkness was crowded with ghosts, devils, and fiendish gods.

These poor wretches were the slaves of fear, the sport of dreams.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Some Pictures Just Speak For Themselves

I'm sometimes accused of using too many words in my blogs, which might well be true, though I can appreciate how Mozart felt when he was accused of using too many notes, so it's refreshing to be able to make a point with a few pictures:

Hunting With Wolves - To Catch Creationists

Artists impression: Wolves hunting mamoths in the Upper Pleistocene Epoch
Photo: Alamy
How hunting with wolves helped humans outsmart the Neanderthals | Science | The Guardian

In a book, The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction, to be published this month, US Anthropologist, Pat Shipman, of Pennsylvania State University, puts forward the idea that domestication of wolves played a key role in the conquest of Europe by modern humans, and may have given us the edge over Neanderthals, so driving them to extinction. I haven't read this book so what I know of it is second hand.

Her argument is that wolves, Neanderthals and
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