Monday, March 31, 2008

Muslims Outnumber Catholics

The Vatican announced today that in its latest studies Muslims now outnumber Catholics as the world's largest denomination (Reuters story here.) Muslims made up 19.2 percent of the world's population and Catholics, 17.4 percent. The Vatican ascribed this to the higher birth rate among Muslims than Catholics.

Muslims are the most anti-education extremists on the planet. As is generally recognized, education of and literacy among women lowers birthrates. Keeping birthrates high is probably why Muslims are against the education of girls, even utilizing violence (as in this story) to keep women from obtaining an education.

Christians as a whole still outnumber Muslims, claiming 33% of the Earth's population.

As the world's fastest-growing religion, Islam represses minorities within Islamic theocracy territories by intimidation and dhimmi laws. Islam is the largest danger to personal freedom for non-theists in the future.

Pakistan: Anti-Education Militant Muslims Blow Up Girls' School

In yet another example of pro-religionists using violence to restrict education, Muslim militants blew up a gate at a girls' school in Pakistan to register their objections to educating girls.

The explosion occurred at night and no one was injured or killed, this time.

Wouldn't want those little girls to get an education. They might start to think for themselves.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Atheists' Gospel: Quotes

"The first divine was the first rogue who met the first fool."

-------Voltaire (1694-1778)

Atheists' Gospel: Quotes

"Baptism is a good thing, with lots of soap."
--Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899)

Atheists' Gospel: Quotes

"Evolution is the most firmly established truth in the natural universe."

--Henry Fairfiel Osborn, American paleontologist, (1857-1935)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

How To Convert An Atheist, Part 2

"God would have to fuck me in the arse and give me a reach around for me to believe in a deity."

--"VinceNoir" (screen name)

Does Science Education Kill Religious Faith?

Science education is not designed to preclude or inhibit religious faith. Science is a different subject than religion. Science is concerned with the natural world and universe, not the supernatural or theological. Most scientists will deny that science destroys faith in a Deity or Deities.

However, the study of science introduces people to ideas that are at odds with what religious organizations promulgate as true. This occurs most often when religion intrudes into the domain of science and not vice versa. When religion states that it has the answers to scientific questions, such as when the Bible states that the Earth is flat (All quotes, KJV: Daniel 4:10-11, Matthew 4:8) and immobile (Examples: I Chronicles 16:30, Psalm 93:1,) science disproves these hypotheses by definitively showing that the Earth is neither flat nor immobile.

Thus, science contradicts many edicts of religion when religion ventures out of its territory.

Science truly undermines religious faith, however, because it teaches people to think. Science teaches people to search for testable, real-world answers to problems and questions rather than rely on superstition, magical thinking, or laziness.

When asked, "Why is the sky blue?" a person of faith can only answer that God decrees it or formulate an inaccurate scientific answer. A person with some science background understands water vapor in the air refracts incoming sunlight toward the blue end of the visible light spectrum. Scientific endeavors, such as rockets and telescopes, have shown that there is no solid firmament above the Earth, as the Bible states.

When asked, "Why did I get sick?" a person of faith can only answer that God willed it, while a microbiologist could isolate the bacteria or virus that caused the infection and provide antibiotics or antivirals to eliminate the infection.

At a magic show, a person who relies on faith to explain the world can only marvel at the wonders. A person with a scientific background notes the smoke and mirrors and the rabbit under the podium, noting that the hat must have a removable panel.

When confronted with horrors in the world, a person of faith can only say that God willed it, perhaps to give Christians something to do. They might pray for God to provide food for the starving. A scientist, however, creates fertilizers, dams, or new strains of drought-resistant crops.

Science teaches people to think of logical, physical causes for events. This makes people less gullible.

By making people less gullible and intellectually lazy, yes indeed, science undermines religious faith.
TK Kenyon,
Author of RABID and CALLOUS: Two novels about science and religion, with some sex and murder.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Very Model of a Psychopharmacologist

Neuroscientists, unite!

Not Just Christian Atheists: Intro to Scientology and Xenu

Christianity isn't the only pack of lies (or, as I tend to think of it, pack of rather interesting philosophy and human psychology masquerading as revealed truth.) Other religions are as screwed up or even more so.

For those of you who haven't seen the South Park episode "Trapped in the Closet," (watch the full episode here) the so-called Church of Scientology believes that (quoted from, this is a paraphrase of the "OTIII" materials from the CoS. As such, this material is not copyrighted by the Church of Scientology.)

"75 million years ago, an evil being named Xenu decided to solve a population problem on his galactic colony by exiling a bunch of people to Earth. Xenu then did a ton of horrible things to these people, like drugging them, placing their bodies around a volcano, and blowing them up with H-bombs.

But that really only took care of the physical problem - Xenu didn't just want the bodies gone, he wanted to make sure the 'thetans' (spirits / souls) of those people didn't come back and reincarnate on his colony. So when the souls started leaving the bodies, he captured the souls and forced them into a huge implant station that was kind of like a movie theatre. There, he made them watch movies that 'implanted' them with false pictures of Christ, and other historical events that Hubbard says didn't actually happen.

The souls were so screwed up from this implanting that they roamed aimlessly around Earth for millions of years. When human beings started evolving, the thetans started entering their bodies and inhabiting them, and thus these thetans are called 'body thetans'. And body thetans, says Hubbard, are the source of all human misery.

But that's just the theory portion of OT3. The practical portion of OT3 involves getting rid of these body thetans. The PC uses the Emeter to locate body thetans that are stuck to his body, and talk to them, auditing them until they blow (go away)."

The volcano on the cover of the Dianetics book (above) refers to Xenu using volcanoes in his reign of terror.

I generally think of religions as interesting philosophy and very clear insights into the human condition, and Scientology is no exception. This is an excellent example of the old saw that it is possible to make people believe absolutely anything.

When one is trapped in an echo chamber of wild beliefs, acceptance is common.

In my novel about to be published, Callous: A Novel, I explored the problem of belief echo chambers and the freefall of logic. Callous will be published in May, 2008.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New Mexico: The new battleground for terrorism

After finding explosives and about 1000 USD worth of Iraqi money in a stolen car in New Mexico, the FBI has ruled out terrorism.
Yep, according to, a news station in New Mexico, the police found a stolen car, about $1000 worth of Iraqi money, and an explosive device in a car in Los Lunas, which is southwest of Albuquerque. Los Lunas Police Captain Charles Nuanes said, “We don’t know what their intentions were. We don’t know what they were planning on doing with any of this.”
Maybe they were planning to blow something up?
While no one knows exactly what the plan was, we can safely say this: someone with Middle Eastern connections good enough to be paid in Iraqi money wanted to blow something up.
Some might decry that Middle Eastern does not necessarily equal Islamic, but let's face it. The Jihadists are the ones who have declared jihad. Jihad means war.
The US is threatened by Islamists infiltrating the Western border. See this story on the planned terrorist attack on Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona.
God doesn't kill people. People who believe in God kill people.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How To Convert An Atheist

What would it take to make me believe?

A personal visitation from a Deity or some Deities, followed by a negative CAT scan for epilepsy, and the revisitation of that Deity despite the camel-sized doses of anti-psychotics that I would be taking for the hallucinations, followed by a significant change in my neurochemistry that can only be described as brain damage that would allow me to mistake the impossible for the merely implausible.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke's View of Religion

"Religion is the most malevolent of all mind viruses. Most malevolent and persistent of all mind viruses. We should get rid of it as quick as we can."

From an interview in Popular Science, 2004, with Arthur C. Clarke.

Mind you, Clarke was friends with C.S. Lewis, who said of Clarke, "I think you are very wicked people, but wouldn't the world be a dull place if everyone was good?"


Monday, March 24, 2008

Of Pandering and People: Should PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins Just Shut Up?


Okay, that's the short answer. Here's the debate:


First, PZ Myers, noted and eminent science blogger and professor, was not admitted to a pre-screening of the film Expelled!, an ID drive-by documentary on evolution, and blogged about how he was thrown out at the whim of the producers. (Previous post: here.)

Myers's guest, Richard Dawkins, was admitted without fuss (as the producers probably did not recognize him, and when asked to show identification, he produced his British passport under his legal name, "Clinton Richard Dawkins.")

It must be noted that both Myers and Dawkins appear in the film Expelled!, for which they were interviewed under false pretenses, and the piecemeal editing of their interviews was journalistically unethical.


After some brouhaha, Matthew Nesbit, a professor of communications, blogged:
"As long as Dawkins and PZ continue to be the representative voices from the
pro-science side in this debate, it is really bad for those of us who care about
promoting public trust in science and science education. Dawkins and PZ need to
lay low as Expelled hits theaters. Let others play the role of communicator,
most importantly the National Center for Science Education, AAAS, the National
Academies or scientists such as Francis Ayala or Ken Miller. When called up by
reporters or asked to comment, Dawkins and PZ should refer journalists to these
organizations and individuals."

At the risk here of being arch, isn't "communications" what people who flunk out of business major in?

More to the point, Nesbit is utterly wrong. He compares the evolution vs. ID debate to politics, comparing Myers and Dawkins to, "Samantha Power, Geraldine Ferraro and so many other political operatives who through misstatements and polarizing rhetoric have ended up being liabilities to the causes and campaigns that they support."

This comparison is a fallacy.

Science is not politics, which is convincing a majority of the people that your political theory is the correct one to vote for on the day of elections in the majority of the voting districts. Politics seeks to create consensus.

Science is the truth. Myers and Dawkins should not be compared to Power and Ferraro, but to Galileo, Darwin, and Copernicus. No matter what the ID guys believe, they're wrong. Convincing more people that creationism is valid will not make it less wrong. Religionists' balking at evolution is just another example of irrational, superstitious flailing.

Nesbit's whole philosophy, "Framing Science," in which mostly non-scientists try to reconcile science with religion, which are several systems of contradictory and unsubstantiated beliefs, is a waste of time.

Yes, we should try to break it gently to religionists that they've been utterly wrong all these years, but eventually, the obvious truth of science will prevail. It's only a matter of time, another scientific concept.

I admit, when I saw Nesbit's blog and its title, "Framing Science," I thought it was a provocative anti-science blog, like when the cops "frame" someone for a crime. Perhaps that wasn't the best moniker for their movement. You would think that a communications major might have thought of that.

Another non-scientist "framing" guy, Chris Mooney, blogged that the PZ Myers controversy is giving the film loads of free publicty, is thus counter-productive, and also suggested that Myers should refrain from more discussion.


Nesbit's post led PZ Myers to this sputtering reply, which is perhaps less eloquent than his usual posts but heartfelt, in which he said in part, "Fuck you very much, Matt. You know where you can stick your advice."

Again, scientists are not politicians, who strive to form consensus or convince voters, or religionists, who seek to silence the opposing viewpoint.

People should go see that film and laugh at it for the dreck it is. The public should understand that Dawkins and Myers were interviewed under false presenses (the film makers told them it was a documentary about science and education, not a religion drive-by of evolution,) and with shoddy journalistic ethics (including the old trick of setting the camera and the interviewer at 90 degrees to each other, and thus the subject looks back and forth between the camera and the interviewer, producing a "shify-eyed" effect that is associated with lying or unreliability.)

Scientists seek the truth, and when we find it, we tell other people the truth. If there are contrary opinions, we debate the evidence and logically decide whose model is more accurate.

That's the problem with non-scientists like Mooney and Nesbit. They're operating in the rhelm of opinion, not truth. They're seeking to sway people with propaganda, not evidence and logic. They're using the enemy's faulty weapons against the enemy, who designed them, have the blueprints, and know where the weak points are.

Evolution is model with huge amounts of scientific evidence backing it up.

Sure, all models are wrong, but some models are useful.

Evolution is a useful model. It explains the past and, contrary to what ID guys will tell you, it accurately predicts future results.

ID and creationism in general do not accurately predict future results, except perhaps that creationists lie to themselves and others and will continue to do so.

Mooney and Nesbit are in the wrong on this issue.

Myers and Dawkins should not shut up.

Scientists tell the truth. Politicians and religionists seek create consensus or to silence the opposition. Pandering to their illogical and ignorant views will only endow them with a false sense of superiority, to go along with their false view of the universe and their false beliefs.

To PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins: Once more into the breach!

TK Kenyon

Sunday, March 23, 2008

John David Lewis, Islamic Totalitarianism, and Georgia Tech

John David Lewis, a political philosopher, gave a speech at Georgia Tech on the subject of "'No Substitute for Victory’: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism," based on an article that he had written. In it, Dr. Lewis says that he:
"rejected all forms of theocracy, but emphasized the danger posed by the Islamic state and argued for the destruction of its most obvious manifestation, the regime in Iran. I was prepared for opposition to the idea of war with Iran, and I acknowledged up front that those who recognize that religious law is wrong might disagree with my conclusion that a war against the Iranian state is necessary. But I was not prepared for the strident defense of Islamic law and jihad—and for the condemnation of me for even raising the issue of Islamic jihad—that was to come."

After Dr. Lewis gave his speech, a young man, assumedly Muslim, stood up and harangued him for fifteen minutes that:

"(1) There is a long separation of church and state in Islam; (2) Islamic law is
good; (3) whenever imposed, Islamic law has brought peace; (4) jihad is a
“wonderful idea” and does not mean war; (5) Islamic Totalitarianism poses no
threat, since 500 million Muslims reject terrorism; (6) the tax leveled against
subjugated peoples is just, because they are protected by Muslims in return; (7)
I am “ignorant of history” if I do not acknowledge the “truth” of these claims."

Eventually, as the two men debated, the Islamist heckler in the audience said that Dr. Lewis had a "criminal mind," and condemned him for reading quotes from Islamists jihadists that refuted the man's views. Essentially, Dr. Lewis was accused of thought crime.

The rest of the exchange shows that Dr. Lewis is intellectually honest and that the man in the audience is brainwashed. The heckler's attitude is frightening in that it details sentiments that many, many Islamists share.

All theocracies repress freedom. We can't be tolerant of those who oppose freedom, for they will not be tolerant of freedom if they are in charge.

TK Kenyon

Friday, March 21, 2008

Empirically Tested Altruism

Though your genes might be selfish, your brain isn't.

Social psychologist Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada, performed a series of studies on, admittedly, small groups to determine what contributes more to happiness: giving money away or spending it on yourself. She gave people money, told them to either donate it or splurge with it, and then quantified happiness levels.

In the spirit of Christmas cheer (even though this is Easter weekend,) either donating the money to charity or buying a gift for others produced more happiness than keeping it or spending it on oneself.

This empirically tested and quantified altruism is a lovely addition to the study of ethics. The studies should be replicated with larger sample sizes, but they are worth reading.
To give is not divine. It's neurologically motivated and behaviorally reinforced.

TK Kenyon

Thursday, March 20, 2008

PZ Myers, Science Blogger, Expelled from EXPELLED

So, there's this new creationist movie called Expelled, and eminent science blogger PZ Myers was waiting to get in for a screening.

A cop pulled him out of line and told him that he couldn't go in and that he had to leave the premises immediately, or he would be arrested.

But wait! There's more. There's so much more. I laughed so hard that I had an asthma attack. A bad one. And then I read it again.

Read THE REST OF THE STORY at Pharyngula.

Oh, man, I wish I had been there.

TK Kenyon

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Vatican Lists Additional Sins. Commits Several During Press Conference.

The Vatican has announced Seven New Mortal Sins to add to all the other things that should make you feel guilty and ashamed. (NPR Article)

This is just another example of the hypocrisy of the Church, and all atheists should stand up and laugh at them in unison, preferably with some pointing and hooting thrown in for good measure. These men are worried about people slacking on recycling when their own parishes have had to pay out (by some accounts) half a billion dollars because their all-male priest caste diddles little boys?

You know, I made that sound funny. It’s not. The Catholic priesthood is rife with pedophiles who sexually abuse children. Pedophilia is not about sex, any more than rape is about sex. It’s about power and an aberrant and evil psychopathy that refuses to understand why children should not enjoy being raped.

The New Mortal Sins

1.) genetic modification

2.) carrying out experiments on humans

3.) polluting the environment

4.) causing social injustice

5.) causing poverty

6.) becoming obscenely wealthy

7.) taking drugs

And as for “becoming obscenely wealthy,” let us not forget that the Catholic Church is the world’s second largest land owner (passed about a decade ago by McDonald’s.) The Vatican is the world’s largest repository of wealth and art. They’re obscenely rich, while they wheedle money out of impoverished superstitious folk who believe their impossible snake-oil promises. Thus, the Church committed #5 and #6 a thousand times over during the press conference.

As for pollution, do we really believe that the Vatican gives a hoot what its "carbon footprint" is, so long as people give them money?

The most obvious sin that the Church committed is that religion as mind control is the most terrible experiment ever visited upon humanity, not to mention uncontrolled population growth and refusing to condone condom use to reduce the transmission of HIV. That's a truly heinous experiment: to determine whether the poor believers die of HIV faster than they can reproduce due to unprotected sex.

TK Kenyon
More Science:

All TK Kenyon's Blogs

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Neuroethics: Does it explain morality?

Bookmark this marvelous new online, free, open-access journal that everyone should read: Neuroethics.

The first issue includes an unflinching look at the field of neuroethics (as distinct from Bioethics,) and the way that the brain determines ethics and morality.

In the first issue, editor Dr. Neil Levy has written an elegent overview of the field, including a neuroethicist's view of the notorious Trolley Problem, namely, if a trolley is hurtling toward five people on a track, and you hold a lever that will change the track so that the trolley is shuttled onto a track where it kills only one person, should you pull the lever.

Most ethicists and ordinary folks say "yes," for the greater welfare is at stake.

However, if the problem is changed subtly so that your choice is between allowing the trolley to crush the five people or pushing a large, beefy man onto the track to obstruct and stop the trolley, most ethicists and ordinary people will say no, that this violates the man's rights, and you should allow the trolley to slaughter the five people.

Neuroethicists have identified where the real problem is: the difference between these two scenarios is not merely “action,” as the Kantian folks dissemble, but emotion. We do not want to be actively responsible for the death of a human being, and a particular human being (the large, beefy man) at that.

The real problem is: since it is emotion that informs our ethical choices, ethical choices are not rational.

The journal also has a lovely article on “The Popular New Genre of Neurosexism” by Dr. Cordelia Fine, comparing recent mommy-brain books to the painfully terrible science of the 1800’s, in which eminent scientists actually promulgated that women’s education should not be too rigorous because it would divert energy to their brains and away from their ovaries, rendering them sterile. (Testicles, apparently, had an independent energy source.)

This excellent new journal deserves bookmarking. Do it now to avoid the rush.

TK Kenyon

Author of RABID: A Novel and CALLOUS: A Novel, where neuroscience, morality, and murder intersect.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rabid Atheists

Sure, religion gives you hope.

But Science makes good on its promises.

A hundred years ago, when the Ingalls family got sick with scarlet fever, Laura Ingalls (Wilder) prayed to God to spare her family. God didn't help much. The fever "settled in Mary's eyes," and Mary went blind.

Now, the Ingalls family could go to the doctor for a scrip for an antibiotic to cure the disseminated strep infection before anyone died or went blind.

Religion makes false promises to the gullible.

The Rabid Atheists Blog seeks to expose religious nuts for the callous snake oil salesmen that they are.