Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Homeschooler 'Proves' Chicago Science Museum Is Totally Wrong About Evolution

Megan Fox... no not that Megan Fox... disproving everything at the science museum. (source)
I've got tons of stuff I want to blog on but instead I'm just dropping this video link here because I just don't have any time!

It's a video with homeschooling mom Megan Fox (not the actor) who goes into a science museum to look for bias and inconsistencies concerning evolution (hint: she doesn't believe in evolution). It's pretty certain that her children do not understand evolution.
In the description of the 30 minute video she uploaded to YouTube to document the visit, Fox wrote, “In November 2014, Megan Fox toured the Field Museum’s ‘Evolving Earth’ exhibit to audit it for bias. She found many examples of inconsistencies and the Field Museum’s insistence that people support opinion as fact without proof. The Field Museum pushes certain theories as if they are absolute proven law when that is not how the scientific method works.”

Dangerous Minds wrote, “(S)he’s an idiot, she homeschools her kids and she’s a fucking dingbat with her own YouTube channel so she can inflict her low IQ buffoonery on everyone else.” 
Her problems with evolution are so horrible that apparently this video is becoming a thing on Reddit. Anyway, Reddit makes my eyes burn, why not go to my very favourite blog, Wonkette, and check out their near point-by-point commentary on this glorious trainwreck?

Can't stop watching. Can't stop reading.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Increasingly-Scary Turkish President Has Problem With Feminists & Wants 'More Pious Youth'

İmam-Hatip Lisesi in Kırklareli, Turkey. By User:Darwinek (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
So Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan is really starting to give Vlad Putin a run for his money with his increasingly bizarre and less funny comments over the past month or so.

In case you're not keeping score, his government censored genitalia and the proper names of genitalia from Biology textbooks; banned his military from watching nudie shows like Game of Thrones; rewritten history to make it more patriotic and took issue with lip-o-suction kissing on daytime television.

It's hard for me to keep up with this leader who's apparently very concerned about morality and Islamic morals and is not ashamed to show the nation's more fundamentalist religious groups he's serious about it. Well, the rhetoric is getting more severe and it looks like he's trying to make a lasting legacy with generations to come and pretty much screw any sort of secular Turkey.

A few days ago, Ergodan started saying things like this:
Our religion [Islam] has defined a position for women: motherhood,” Erdoğan said at a summit in Istanbul on justice for women, speaking to an audience including his own daughter Sumeyye.

“Some people can understand this, while others can’t. You cannot explain this to feminists because they don’t accept the concept of motherhood.”
How quaintly Victorian sounding. It's strange because most of the women I know with children would easily qualify as feminists by his definition. I'm willing to guess that, save some religious quiverfull types... etc., most women in the developed world would take issue with this. But, you know, it's not Ergodan who's saying this, it's just his religion, you know? You gonna argue with that?

I wonder if the Duggars would get along with him on this point? You know, this all sounds startingly familiar!
“Motherhood is something else,” he said, claiming that it should be a woman’s priority because Islam exalts women as mothers.

He went on to say that women and men could not be treated equally “because it goes against the laws of nature”.

“Their characters, habits and physiques are different … You cannot place a mother breastfeeding her baby on an equal footing with men.

“You cannot make women work in the same jobs as men do, as in communist regimes. You cannot give them a shovel and tell them to do their work. This is against their delicate nature.”
I know, how about letting the women decide what they wish to do and then hire them on the basis of whether they can do it? Canada is still not a panacea of women's equality in the workplace but come on! The only possible excuse for ideas this retrograde are the doctrines of some ancient religion.

Luckily, some of these evil feminists hit back, although I'm beginning to wonder for how long they will be in a position to do this.

MP Aylin Nazliaka:
“Erdoğan has publicly committed a hate crime … But I will continue to fight this man who sees no difference between terrorists and feminists,” she said in a written statement.
Television anchorwoman Sule Zeybek is apparently one of those feminist mothers in which Ergodan doesn't believe:
“I am a feminist and thank God I’m a mum. I wouldn’t kiss my mother’s feet but I have great respect for her,” she said.
In fact, it seems like this new highly religious Islamic government has declared its own war on women:
Erdoğan has drawn the ire of feminist groups for declaring that every woman in Turkey should have three children and with proposals to limit abortion rights, the morning-after pill and caesarean sections.

Seen by critics as increasingly authoritarian, he has repeatedly lashed out personally at female journalists who displeased him.

But the government’s attitude towards women came under even greater scrutiny after the deputy prime minister, Bülent Arinç, caused a furore in August by suggesting women should not laugh loudly in public.
I'm sure some progressives and secularists within and without Turkey are simply waiting for this insanity to pass, but it appears that long lasting damage could be done to the wall of state-mosque separation in Turkey. A recent Public Radio International feature on the phasing out of secular schools in favor of Islamic schools in Turkey in order to 'raise a more pious youth' has got those in the know concerned.

Imam hatip schools were created in the early days of the Turkish Republic to train Sunni Muslim scholars. They’re now open to all students who want an education that emphasizes Sunni Islam.

But what angers Fatma — and many others in Turkey — is that more and more secular schools are being converted into imam hatip schools. Just like the one in Fatma’s neighborhood.
Even people within the educational system see the government's promotion and conversion of secular schools into religious schools as a concerted attack on science literacy -- which lines up well with the recent Biology textbook censorship debacle. Reminds me a little of Texas.
A teacher at a secular middle school, Ozden Aras is worried about the shift. “I think science is more important than religion, but in Turkey now religion is more important than science,” she explains. This summer she found herself fighting to keep her school from being converted into an imam hatip school. Like the majority of Turkey, she’s Sunni. But she says the religious curriculum should be an option, not the norm.
And this is not mere persuation, the increasingly conservative Islamic government is now actively attempting to limit and shut down secular education in the government, putting the future of secularism at risk.
Ozden and her school’s community resisted the government’s plans — and won. But that’s rare. More schools are being converted, and the number of imam hatip schools has leapt more than 70 percent in the past four years. At the opening of a new imam hatip school in Ankara last week, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan boasted that students enrolled in religious education increased 15-fold since he joined Turkey’s leadership in 2002. He has also said he wants Turkey to raise a more “pious youth.”
This started out sort of funny, but now it's getting a bit serious. What's even more curious is how closely a lot of these moves seem to mirror the political activism of the fundamentalist Christian right in the United States. Perhaps different only in degree but the similarities of substance are strikingly similar.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Petition Launched to Keep Lord's Prayer in Brampton City Council Meetings

Billy Graham (source).
Remember the post I wrote awhile back about the new mayor in Brampton who's considering dropping the recital of the Lord's Prayer at city meetings? Atheist blogger Veronica Abbass was quoted on the piece as well.

Anyway, it turns out that Susanne Guenther, of Brampton’s The Salvation Army, has decided to launch a petition against removing the prayer.

From the petition itself:
To begin Council meetings with the Lord's Prayer is to acknowledge there is a higher power, and to petition a blessing for all the people of Brampton.  There are no exclusive terms within the prayer. It asks for provision and protection for all people. There can be no wording more inclusive than those already spoken. Canada is a Nation that has grown and prospered because of it's (sic) foundation of Biblical Principals (sic) that are for every people in this world. To remove a foundation is detrimental to a firm structure. 
Let's take a close look at one of the Lord's Prayers. I'll choose the Catholic one because apparently this completely non-exclusive prayer has several different versions because it's been reinterpreted several times by different groups. I'm guessing Jews, Jains, Buddhists, Muslims, Mormons, Pastafarians, Rastafarians, Zoroastrians or Hindus are not one of those groups.
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
I wonder what the Wiccans would say about Our Father? I wonder what the Zen Buddhists would say about who art in heaven? What do non-believers of the Bible thing of thy kingdom come? Does this kingdom include Lakshmi or Ganesh? What about the traditional Native gods who may have been pushed out of the minds by this very prayer over the past few centuries by zealous missionaries right here in Canada? It goes on and on. Of course, if you're an atheist none of this is even the slightest bit non-exclusive.

Is it not blatantly obvious that biblical principles are not foundational to any religion on earth that doesn't base itself on the Bible? Why are we even having this discussion?

However, what immediately hit me about this was a realization that most people out there seem to see little matters like human rights as being up for a general vote. You know, little things like protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

From a Mississauga News article on this:
Guenther said she is worried that dropping the prayer goes against what the majority of Brampton residents want.

“I’ve never heard anyone complain about the Lord’s Prayer, and I wanted to know if there are other people that feel the same way as I do,” she said as to her motive behind the petition. “It’s like everyone is afraid to say something and so I’m just saying what other people are thinking.”

The tradition of reciting the Lord’s Prayer at council – and that it represents the Christian background Canada was built on – should be upheld, she said.
If the population of Brampton becomes majority non-Christian, I'll be looking forward to Guenther's energetic defense of Islamic or Buddhist prayers at city council meetings. We can wait five or ten years to let it become a tradition as well, if it will help.
“If you are going to lead with any prayer, it’s as good as any,” she said, noting that she attends council meetings regularly. “I’m just standing up for what I always thought was a good thing.”
Well, then I suppose it's nothing special. If it's as good as any then why don't we switch things up every so often and have some invocations to other deities? Why is it so important for people to participate in this theater? Perhaps if it wasn't so important, people like me would pay it no mind.

Regardless of this oft-used ruse of claiming it's no big deal, it's just tradition, recitation of this prayer is important, it's a statement that this is a Christian Nation and other religions (and non-religions) better remember that. It's a bizarre attempt to defend a homogenous Canada from the cultural diversity that is Canada today.

Here's hoping the Saguenay prayer case goes our way.

Rick Mercer's Latest Rant Calls Out Government's Anti-Science Position

Rick Mercer Report Rant (source).
Watch this video, it's short and Rick Mercer reminds us how our Harper Government(tm), who brought us the Office of Religious Freedom and doesn't think atheists have any human rights issues (John Baird said), has systematically worked against science in Canada.

Then go read Foreign scientists call on Stephen Harper to restore science funding, freedom, then read all about how for the first time in history, the usually non-political scientists are now campaigning against our government: Canadian Federal Scientists, Professionals Union Launches Anti-Harper Campaign.

Now go read Larry Moran's Sandwalk blog. He is covering how the government is systematically gagging and gutting science in our country. Why not start at this post: Canada is destroying a generation of scientists.

Can we please put aside our differences and push this government out?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

US Hindu Group Upset With Art Featuring Indian Gods In Modern Settings

Image of modern-day Lakshmi by photographer Dina Goldstein in her new installation Gods of Suburbia.
In December 2013, it was the 'Lord Ganesh socks'. Then, in July 2014, it was the 'Lord Ganesh duvet cover'. Now it's an art installation in Vancouver called Gods of Suburbia that's got American Hindu statesman Rajad Zed and his Universal Society of Hinduism rather upset.
Rajan Zed, who often makes the news as president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, objects to the way Ganesh is shown sitting on a bench in Fairview Elementary school in Vancouver, being bullied. Lakshmi is seen in a modern kitchen with a snake slithering towards her.
Here is the meat from his official press release. Emphasis my own.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA), was highly critical of Dina Goldstein’s photo project for trivializing the highly revered deities of Hinduism, Ganesh and Lakshmi.

In this photo project, Ganesh is shown sitting on a bench in Fairview Elementary and apparently being bullied by kids. Lakshmi is seen struggling in the kitchen with a snake slithering towards her.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that reimagining Hindu scriptures and deities for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. Ganesh and Lakshmi and other Hindu deities were meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and it was not appropriate to unnecessarily drag them around to push your personal interests.

Rajan Zed pointed out that Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it were painful for the devotees. Artists should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, Zed added.

Zed further said that Hindus welcomed art world to immerse in Hinduism but taking it seriously and respectfully and not for refashioning Hinduism concepts and symbols for personal agendas. Distorting of Ganesh and Lakshmi was highly slighting of ancient Hindu traditions.
Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. No faith, larger or smaller, should be plundered, Rajan Zed noted.
Well, Boo hoo!

How is this any different than Muslims demanding we not draw the prophet? Zed is quite welcome to revere his gods as much as he likes, but that's where his rights end. Goldstein can paint whatever she pleases and it's obviously nothing personal. This is simply what she does with all topics, sacred or otherwise, and she's rather good at it.

These images are all rather good and thought-provoking as well. My favourite is Lord Xenu auditing someone! You can also see Charles Darwin as well.