Thursday, May 31, 2007

Local Scientists Raise Concerns about Creation Museum

Statement of Concern

We, the undersigned scientists at universities and colleges in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana, are concerned about scientifically inaccurate materials at the Answers in Genesis museum. Students who accept this material as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level. These students will need remedial instruction in the nature of science, as well as in the specific areas of science misrepresented by Answers in Genesis.

How to sign this statement

Click “List of signatories” (below) and scroll to the end of the list.
Post your name, title, institutional affiliation, and website. Submit only your name, institutional affiliation, and website, if you have one. No text, please.
Your email address is required to post the comment, but will not be shown publicly.

Your signature will be posted after it is validated.

Please sign only if you are a scientist (faculty or post-doctoral level) from IN, KY, or OH. Thanks!

List of signatories

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West
by Roger Crowley

Five hundred and fifty-four years ago today, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople fell to the forces of the Ottoman Turks ending a thousand years of Christian rule in the east. Its significance to us today is underscored by the daily headlines emanating from that region of the world. Iraq, formally known as Mesopotamia, is a legacy of both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.

Roger Crowley’s fluency of writing and even-handed approach in bringing the events occurring in the spring of 1453 to life avoids the simple-mindedness so common in “popular” histories. Crowley argues the fall of Byzantium “is unusual in being history largely written by the losers.”

Contemporary Ottoman accounts barely exist; they were still largely a preliterate society and the accounts from their oral tradition ossified into terse chronicles with the aim of creating an Ottoman dynastic legend. It is from reading between the lines of writing from Christendom, which can hardly be relied upon to be impartial. There is also a paucity of records from the Byzantine Greeks themselves. The story is largely left to Italian eyewitness accounts that give the Byzantines, with the exception of the 57th emperor Constantine XI, unfailingly bad press. The Ottoman emperor, Mehmet II who was a mere 21 years when he took Constantinople, is often label by European sources as a “blood-drinker”.

Crowley’s challenge is to sort out what was plausible and to engage the reader in the description of a two-month siege and he succeeds admirably. He takes the reader through the geopolitics of the 15th century as well as the engineering and tactical preparation of both the Muslim army – a multinational force of 80,000 containing a sizable number of Christians, and the defenders, a motley force of 8,000 comprised of Greeks, Venetians and Genoese as well as a contingent of renegade Turks and a intrepid Scotsman.

For anyone interested in the end of the medieval world and the origins of current situation in the Muslim world, I would highly recommend this informative and entertaining read.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Northern Exposure

Like most readers, I carry an image of Alaska that was formed in large part by the quirky television program Northern Exposure. A populace comprised of congenial misanthropes and eccentrics who were charming against a backdrop of majestic natural beauty.

The frozen north it seems is not quite as friendly – at least to nonbelievers – as we were led to believe. The following letter has a decidedly less tolerant tone than one would expect to find in the Kenai Peninsula Clarion where stories of moose charges and Grizzly bear sightings make the front page. A certain Alice Shannon, whose letter appeared in the Clarion holds somewhat xenophobic notions in regard to infidels:

“It’s time to stomp out atheists in America. The majority of Americans would love to see atheists kicked out of America. If you don’t believe in God, then get out this country.

The United States is based on having freedom of religion, speech, etc. which means you can believe in God any way you want (Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, etc.), but you must believe.

I don’t recall freedom of religion meaning no religion. Our currency even says, “In God we trust”. So to all the atheist in America: Get out of our country.

Atheists have caused the ruin of this great nation by taking prayer out of our schools and being able to practice what can only be called evil. I don’t care if they have never committed a crime, atheist are the reason crime is rampant.”

Well, Alice certainly has a bee in her bonnet. One hardly knows where to begin with this (but I am sure some readers do!). If I might throw in my two cents worth, I’d like to address Alice’s failing memory, “I don’t recall freedom of religion meaning no religion.” To quote Thomas Jefferson, author of the amendment she so clearly admires;

“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782

So to all you evil-doing atheists (with or without felony records) out there, watch out! Alice Shannon is on to you, and she has the [final?] solution.

My thanks to the Raving Atheist for this gem.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Nearly 1 in 3 Believe Bible is Literal Word of God

I found this disturbing little bit of news in the latest issue of Editor and Pulisher magazine:

Nearly 1 in 3 Believe Bible is Literal Word of God

By E&P Staff

Published: May 25, 2007 10:05 AM ET
NEW YORK About one-third of the American adult population believes the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally word for word, a new Gallup poll reveals. This percentage is only slightly lower than several decades ago.

Gallup reports that the majority of those "who don't believe that the Bible is literally true believe that it is the inspired word of God but that not everything it in should be taken literally." Finally, about one in five Americans believe the Bible is merely an ancient book of "fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man."

There is also a strong relationship between education and belief in a literal Bible, Gallup explains, with such belief becoming much less prevalent as schooling continues.

Those who believe in the literal Bible amount to 31% of adult Americans. This is a decline of about 7% compared with Gallup polls taken in the 1970s and 1980s. It is strongest in the South.

Believe in the literal word of the Bible is strongest among those whose schooling stopped with high school and declines steadily with educational level, with only 20% of college graduates holding that view and 11% of those with an advanced degree.

E&P Staff

Friday, May 25, 2007

For Shame

This past Sunday the Cincinnati Enquirer devoted the front page and an entire section to the creation museum opening here on the 28th. Of course, the praise was lavish and what few criticisms there were, buried in the "letters" section (yours truly was included). An entire spread was dedicated to Ken Ham, the Chaucerian mountebank who swindled the credulous out of $27 million to erect this shrine to ignorance where Adam and Eve go to Sunday school riding dinosaurs; a place where Darwin, secular science and troubling evidence hold no sway.

If our bumpkinhood was not already confirmed, this insult to every natural history museum in the world was splashed across the pages of the New York Times yesterday. And to my horror, it remains the most popular e-mailed, blogged and searched article today. Now the whole world knows of our shame and can only conclude we are hotbed of inbred goobers.

This utter barking lunacy make one almost wish for biblical wrath; a nice plague of locusts or a Sodom and Gomorrah tactical nuclear strike, anything to end the embarrassment.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Christopher Hitchens on "Militant Atheism"

This appears in the current issue of Free Inquiry magazine:

"All you need is to ignore the difference between someone who believes in, say, heaven and hell and someone who doesn't. The first has a lot of work to do by way of providing anything that even looks like evidence. The second rests his case on the extreme improbability of any such evidence being adduced. Are these positions really describable as morally or intellectually equivalent? Or take the case of someone who believes in punishment for blasphemy or in prior restraint on those who might commit it. Is this the same dogma as the argument that says that religion, since it makes such huge claims, must expect to have them submitted to rigorous questioning?...The faithful believe that certain truths have been 'revealed.' The skeptics and secularists believe that truth is only to be sought by free inquiry and trial and error. Only one of those positions is dogmatic."

Well said...