October 7, 2009
Since the pernicious rumor that Einstein was a theist continues to make its way across the Internet, just keep in mind Einstein’s actual, final words on the subject:
“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”
Einstein may have been right (or wrong); I cite his words here not as evidence for atheism, but because so many Christians continue to insist that Einstein was in some way a theist.
October 2, 2009
Dawkins was on Colbert the other night, and although the appearance went pretty much as I expected, I thought there were two pretty noteworthy moments.
First, Dawkins came on to the show wearing a custom “crocoduck” tie, after the nonsense strawman argument against evolution peddled by our Way-of-the-Master friends Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort. (“If evolution is real,” Cameron asks, “then why don’t we see any transitional fossils?“) And by “transitional fossils,” Cameron doesn’t mean actual transitional fossils, but nonsensical fuzors, such as the half-crocodile, half-duck “crocoduck.” See how cute he is?
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October 1, 2009
Very cool! Click here to read about Anchiornis huxleyi, the newest feathered dinosaur to be found in China:
With each new find, we learn more about the dinosaur-bird transition.
May 21, 2009
Everything you need to know about Darwinus masillae, the new primate fossil released yesterday.
EDIT: Deleted inaccurate reference to hominid.
May 20, 2009
When delving into presuppositional arguments (or the Argument from Reason, or other claims by Christians in support of mind-brain dualism), I’ll often point out that the brain we have is not cognitively reliable in precisely the sort of ways you would expect given evolution — e.g., things like Alien Hand Syndrome, optical illusions, and so on.
Thanks to Stephanie, I’ve now found the single best illustration I’ve ever seen of the way in which our brain can be fooled: the break of the curveball in baseball.
Those of us who threw curveballs know the fundamental dilemma: a classic, Blylevenesque “12-to-6” curveball appears to break much more sharply than it actually does. Part of the work of the “break” is accomplished by downward spin, and part of it is accomplished by optical illusion.
If you follow this link, you’ll see the optical illusion portion of the curveball’s break illustrated vividly. Watch the path of the spinning ball, and you can see that it travels in a straight line. Shift your focus to the blue spot, and the ball seems to be curving away from you at a drastic angle. It’s eerie!
The authors conclude:
In baseball, a curveball creates a physical effect and a perceptual puzzle. The physical effect (the curve) arises because the ball’s rotation leads to a deflection in the ball’s path. The perceptual puzzle arises because the deflection is actually gradual but is often perceived as an abrupt change in direction (the break). Our illusions suggest that the perceived “break” may be caused by the transition from the central visual system to the peripheral visual system. Like a curveball, the spinning disks in the illusions appear to abruptly change direction when an observer switches from foveal to peripheral viewing.
Just another datapoint in support of the view that our cognitive faculties are the unreliable, cobbled-together product of millions of years of evolution of the physical brain, and not some disembodied mind crafted by an almighty God.
April 27, 2009
Okay, this one is a real head-scratcher. A self-help guru (“Steve Pavlina,” not that I’ve ever heard of him) has posted his personal guide, “How to Graduate From Christianity.”
Ugh. Hey, Steve: you’re not helping! After the jump, I tackle Steve’s misguided notions of “graduating” from Christianity and defend my own vision of “evangelical” atheism.
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April 17, 2009
Check out BoingBoing’s explanation of Ken Miller’s talk on chromosome fusion, which provides powerful confirmation of the shared ancestry between humans and apes.
One nit with the article: the author uses the term “chromosome” to mean “pair of chromosomes.” The fusion Miller describes occurred in pair 2, so humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes (46 total) and apes have 24.
April 15, 2009
Part 10 of that series nicely responds to the Fine Tuning argument as advanced by the Discovery Institute in “The Privileged Planet” (the first clip) and Lee Strobel’s video “The Case For A Creator” (second clip). Here it is:
(After a brief interlude to smack down Kent Hovind — which is a bit too much like kicking a wounded puppy for my tastes — the response continues with part thirteen.)
April 10, 2009
Courtesy of the Christian Booksellers’ Association, and it’s a fair summary of the common apologetic arguments and the way in which they fall on atheistic ears.
I continue to be stumped — even angry — when the supposed “leading lights” of the Christian apologetics movements (Strobel, Craig) can repeat obvious scientific falsehoods with a straight face. Make whatever argument you want, but when you stand in front of several hundred people and affirm that “information in DNA requires an intelligent source,” you are spouting nonsense at best and outright lies at worst. I’m shocked more Christians don’t disavow these sorts of tactics.