Poor little Churchy-wurchy.

Discussion (97)¬

  1. MarkyWarky says:

    Surely it’s an improvement in standards; they’re getting better at abuse, corruption and hypocrisy aren’t they?

  2. Ron Murphy says:

    And better at publicity. Just think of the new recruitment opportunities among sexually repressed misogynistic young men who might have mistakenly thought they weren’t qualified to be priests.

  3. Ron Murphy says:

    Oh, hang on. That always was their recruitment base. Scratch that last comment.

  4. J Ascher says:

    The only standards that have improved is the church’s is how they demagogue about abuse!

  5. nothere says:

    I wonder how the new boss is going to do, what with the old boss looking over his shoulder?

  6. Have you seen that Herr Pope is keeping a pair of hand made loafers given to him, by some South American “artisian” workers?
    He’s had them for a while & is rather keen on them, instead of his bright red, (but not “Wizard of Oz”, bright red) Pope Slippers that he normally wears (cos the job did come with a uniform after all).
    I bet the Soul on them is filthy, sorry I mean Sole…no…I do mean Soul….oh eff it – either’s true…
    At least they won’t have to get him a “going away” present – he’s staying in Vatican City so he can’t get arrested for protecting Child Rapists…too much?…nah…thought not…

  7. theGreatFuzzy says:

    I hear the departing pope is to have his ring crushed.
    I don’t know if it’s true that, on being told, he quipped “Bugger me” (only in Latin of course)

  8. Sondra says:

    *Wild Applause*

  9. jerry w says:

    If the next pope is a “liberal” one, the church may need to make it clear that though it’s now o.k. for priests to date nuns, they shouldn’t get in the habit.

  10. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Aww diddums. What’s up, Jesus? Argument from authority not working as well as it used to? Don’t worry, you’re in good company; governments, the military, and multi-national corporations to name but a few.
    They should have listened to the old maxim: a secret is only a secret when two people know it – and one of them is dead. They all got sloppy and forgot how to cover their tracks.

    Stewart, great picture. Thanks.

  11. fenchurch says:

    Do you think secrecy is really the problem? I suspect that greasin’ the ol’ wheels– a time-honoured method of getting things done in unequal societies– was not scandalous back in the day (or, if my Italian cultural book is accurate, to present).

    Nope, I think the real struggle re: the deceit required for those in the religion business, is that people are better educated and have access to other sources, so it’s harder to perform the sleight of hand needed to misdirect folks away from nasty facts by their patented spouting of holy bullcrap interleaved with their brand of self-serving interpretation.

  12. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Fenchurch (I daren’t call you ‘Fenny’), you’re book on Italian culture is still relevant. I was watching a documentary about just that last night, and was surprised – though not very – to discover that organised crime is the second highest source of Italy’s GDP.

  13. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    ‘You’re’ book? ‘Your’.
    I’m getting old.

  14. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    Were it not for scandalous behaviour religion
    The brain dead would be in apoplectic derision
    Without something to insult
    The most likely result result
    Insertion of their heads up their posterior incision.

  15. Dan says:

    Yet again Author fails to be at all funny due to painful and cutting accuracy.

    Please reduce the factual content so we can bear to laugh at it!

  16. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Nassar, Nassar, Nassar. I have oft been a staunch defender of your contributions, thinking that I can see something there that others are missing. So why are you so intent on proving me wrong?

    Dan, I’m sure that if religion chose to increase the factual content of their output, Author will be pleased to reduce the same in his.
    But, to borrow a phrase from that great philosopher Homer,* “It’s funny because it’s true”.

    *Simpson, of course.

  17. truthspeaker says:

    This is what priests and cardinals mean when they talk about “discretion” – having the good manners to keep their bad behavior secret.

  18. hotrats says:

    their patented spouting of holy bullcrap interleaved with their brand of self-serving interpretation..

    To quote Holly from Red Dwarf:
    “If you’ve got a complaint, just come straight out with it. Don’t hide behind innuendo and hyperbole.”

  19. Chin up, Jesus, just remember – everyone else does it too. Nobody expects the church to be better than everyone else, surely.


  20. botanist says:

    An email has just arrived from RedMolotov advertising their new T-shirts, included this one:


    Enjoy – and browse the site, they have other great ones.

  21. omg says:

    Talking about secrets: in a few week, they well elect a new pope (I fear that he will be worst than the previous one). It is quite strange that people find it normal that the one defining how the church is working is selected in secret. We can see him as the one deciding the rules to determine if your soul go to the heaven or to hell… (of course only if you belive this nonsense).

    I know, church is not a democratie.

  22. hotrats says:

    Talking about secrets: in a few weeks, they will elect a new pope (I fear that he will be worse than the previous one). It is quite strange that people find it normal that the one defining how the church works is selected in secret. We can see him as the one deciding on the rules to determine if your soul goes to () heaven or to hell… (of course only if you believe this nonsense).
    I know, the church is not a democracy.

    Yes, that’s the problem with god; a bit of a right-winger when it comes to the will of the people.

  23. nothere says:

    I was just listening to NPR. They were interviewing a reporter covering the papal conclave. He said that they may be looking for someone who can actively engage the believers when he speaks. Not someone like Benny, who speaks eight languages, but someone who can sway the crowd. What we used to call a flim-flam men.

  24. No wonder that the pope selecting process is secret. It is political, so I’m sure there is plenty of back room dealing, name calling and back biting. No matter who is eventually picked pope you don’t want that political stink to follow the guy. Plus it would kind of undermine the idea that the pope was somehow chosen by god.

  25. omg says:

    floridakitesurfer :
    Exactly what I’m thinking, the process of choosing a new pope could be very aggressive.

  26. hotrats says:

    They should make it more fair and transparent; two falls, two submissions or a knockout.

  27. WalterWalcarpit says:

    I expect they just get together and throw dice.

    I nominate Gregorian Chants for Fenchurch’s genre.

  28. omg says:

    Your link remind me this one:

  29. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    floridakitesurfer says:
    February 27, 2013 at 10:26 pm
    […] Plus it would kind of undermine the idea that the pope was somehow chosen by god.

    You know, fks has a damned good point there. As Popey is supposedly chosen by him upstairs, and him upstairs is supposed to know all that ever was, all that is, and all that is to come, then why the feck does it take so long to make his mind up?

    hotrats, I like that idea. As the white smoke begins to waft from the chimney, a voice like thunder roars down from the balcony; “Can you SMELL what the POPE is COOKING?”.
    Or maybe “Abortion is a sin, ‘cos Stone Cold Pope Austin says so!”
    Too late for Big Daddy and Mick McManus, of course. And who wouldn’t have loved to have seen Giant Haystacks in the papal ruby slippers?

  30. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    If I may be serious for a moment, starting here I will be petitioning all of my family, friends, and aquaintances to consider closing their facebook accounts. Can anybody here read this and not want to do the same?

  31. WalterWalcarpit says:

    Hey, AoS, I took you as one who favoured freedom of expression.
    Although trying to humble Facebook could be described as ridiculing the sincerely held beliefs of millions.

    I don’t do Facebook so can’t see the translations (and I never learned to read Arabic, although I used to speak it a bit) but it strikes me that all the comments that I can read are attacking the posting of the graphic.
    Including one that contrasts it to condemnation of cartoons of the prophet.

    Personally I am intrigued by the character in the penultimate pane who is presumably a doctor brought in to attest to the liveliness of the victim; as he is depicted as educated in his western clothes what does that actually say about the mob with the rocks in their galabeas? Ignorant peasants perhaps?

    I am all for undermining the ubiquity of that partiicular portal of expression but one should always be careful of summoning the censors.

    Far better surely to encourage your family, friends and acquaintances to use their Facebook facility to get on a verbal rampage and take issue with the act so brutally and unequivocally depicted – there could hardly be a better opportunity.

  32. MarkyWarky says:

    I doubt Facebook would even notice the loss of accounts no matter how many we could muster, and arguably all we’d be doing is leaving Facebook to these morons.

    I’d say leave it up and publicise it as much as possible. Showing the world the true nature of these people will do more good than hiding it IMHO.

  33. hotrats says:

    Ehm…all right, two with points, two flats – oh, and a packet of gravel. Life of Brian

  34. Don says:

    I just read this and felt the need to share.

    ‘Pope Benedict XVI recently resigned from his position as head of the Catholic church, we assume by storming purposefully into Jesus’ office and handing in his badge and gun. The papacy is a lifetime gig, leaving many people confused as to why he would suddenly have the gall to quit without dying. Honestly, we’re curious why more popes haven’t stepped down…’


  35. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    WalterWalcarpit says:
    February 28, 2013 at 1:57 am
    Hey, AoS, I took you as one who favoured freedom of expression.

    I am. They’re free to express their barbarism, facebook is free to help promote it (whether because religion’s involved or because the Islamic countries are a vast potential market I couldn’t say), and I’m free to express my disgust.

    [….]Far better surely to encourage your family, friends and acquaintances to use their Facebook facility to get on a verbal rampage and take issue with the act so brutally and unequivocally depicted….

    Because it’s a good idea to antagonise fanatics via a medium such as facebook that identifies the antagonists? That’s a risk I wouldn’t ask anybody to take.

  36. I’m with MarkyWarky on the FaceBook issue. The more that faction of subhumans is allowed to display itself, the less support it will get in the real world. They are like the Westboro Baptist Church, driving people to atheism.
    Hey, there is no Pope. For this brief period the world is without an infallible fossil. It won’t last, but it feels good while it’s happening.

  37. Leon Zitzer says:

    The Church certainly deserves all the criticism it gets, and, like the last cartoon posted here suggested, theologians indulge in a lot of preconceived thinking. But the really interesting thing is that all these criticisms, like hypocrisy and enforcing preconceptions, applies to many academic fields, especially history. Theologians and religious clerics are easy targets. But when you criticize certain secular academics and even an entire field for valuing ideology over evidence, you get the mentality of circling the wagons and protecting reputations. Very few people take religion and theology seriously. Secular academics are really the new authority figures for most of the public, and many of them do just as bad a job at scientific study of the evidence (in history, for example). I’m just saying we need some equal time for criticizing hypocrisy and preconceived ideas in many another academic field.

  38. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    re. the facebook issue; we can only direct people to the item in question; what they choose to make of it, and how they choose to register their own feelings over the issue is their own concern.

    DH, if you haven’t already done so, please take five minutes to have a look at Leon Zitzer’s blog; just be sure to take a blood-pressure tablet first (the url should give a clue as to why).

    Can we get back to being funny now?
    By the way, what do you mean by “the world is without an infallible fossil.”? I wasn’t aware that I had died.

  39. WalterWalcarpit says:

    Acolyte of Sagan for Pope!

  40. WalterWalcarpit says:

    AoS “When they came for the Jews, I did not speak out, but I did stop buying their papers”.
    No Pasaran!

    And as always with the Internet there is more to the story than first grabs a headline. And while none of that excuses the practice behind the graphic whether it is an instruction guide, a cartoon that serves to satirise or a pictorial call to arms (remember that Arabic reads from right to left – this probably was not drawn for a madrasah classroom) it is the brutality of sharia that is being discussed.

    And that has to be the good thing.

  41. IanB says:

    Just read that having resigned the Pope is to have his ring smashed. Well finally after a lifetime in the Catholic church he’s now going to find out what it’s been like for those abused by priests.

  42. Dan says:

    IanB, I think we’ve all been thinking of that joke but weren’t going to go there.

    I’m kinda grateful.

  43. Don says:

    I have seen a translation of this, and I don’t know if it is from the original or not, but the translated text was condemnatory of stoning. It pointed out that the doctor was often working against his will, that the man had a chance of survival which the woman did not and that the people doing the stoning were generally young men in militias rather than the community.

    Here’s the link;http://www.i-am-bored.com/bored_link.cfm?link_id=82688

    I don’t know if it is the original or not.

  44. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Thanks Don, that’s the one.
    Not so infallible after all, but I’ve brought this horrific practice to the attention of a lot of people so it’s worth feeling a little stupid for a while. I will of course be forwarding the link to all those I e-mailed initially.
    The translation is far more chilling than anything I could have guessed at from the pictures alone, genuinely the stuff of nightmares. But what else do we expect from the religion of peace?

  45. Hazel Dennis says:

    As a Christian I do not follow a religion or even the church but I follow JESUS who is perfect. He is my idol and never lets me down. Science will let you down, the world will let you down and love will let you down but Jesus will never let you down!

  46. hotrats says:

    Hazel Dennis:
    You seem to be lost; apart from Jesus, is there a grown-up who looks after you?

  47. Leon Zitzer says:

    Here is an unwelcome thought: Theologians and religious clerics are not the enemy. Bad thinking is the enemy, such as ignoring evidence, using preconceptions to “prove” a point, hypocrisy. It does not matter who does it. It is bad when scientists or theologians do it. If Darwin incorporates certain racist preconceptions into his work, that should be exposed. If Darwinists make Darwin into a god, that should be told. The worst offenders are academic historians who tell so many lies about history. Worse than theologians are those who claim to be biblical historians who give a very biased view of the evidence. If you are casting stones and witticisms, spread it around. It isn’t only the religious who deserve it.

  48. WalterWalcarpit says:

    Leon, watch this space and I think you’ll find that anyone that spouts unsubstantiated rubbish is liable to get trawled. Ridiculing the religious is usually the most fun; not least because in this modern caring age it is not considered correct to laugh at stupid people.

    What’s this about Darwin & racist preconceptions? It’s ringing a bell but not a very well tuned one. Would you care to explain yourself?
    As for making the man into a god … this is a pretty daft place to suggest such a thing.

    Hotrats: sublime.

  49. MarkyWarky says:

    I don’t see the significance of whether or not Darwin was a racist. A) given the times in which he lived, it wouldn’t surprise me, and B) whether or not he was has no bearing on whether or not his theory was correct. We are so far advanced with the study of evolution now that, apart from the fact that he put forward the idea, his work is now almost irrelevant. It could be 80% wrong, and 100% based on preconceptions, for all I care; the fact is that his scientific theories have been tested and found to be largely true.

    That’s the purpose of science; you can propose anything you want, and can base it on whatever prejudices you like, but you’d better be ready to have your assertions tested before they become accepted as fact. That is not how theologians treat gods, and is precisely why Darwin is NOT a god.

  50. From my reading of Darwin I would say he was anything but a racist. He saw the connection between all people, and the connection to nature. While he was a man of his time, the racism label has been pinned on him by people who don’t like his theory in an attempt to discredit him. The “survival of the fittest” misunderstanding is largely to blame for this, and lead to eugenics and other pseudo-scientific justification of prejudice, i.e. if we are able to dominate it’s because we are the fittest and that’s just natures way.
    But as I said, Darwin was a man of his time. He begins one chapter of “Voyage of the Beagle” with the sentence: “Today I shot a condor.” (gasp) In another passage, he describes how he spotted a very rare fox in Patagonia and managed to kill it with a blow from his geologist’s hammer. That’s what they did with very rare creatures back then – killed them so they could be stuffed and exhibited in London.

  51. BTW, Darwin remains very readable. He still is my ideal scientist. For example, most people on finding dust on their ship would brush it off and forget it. Darwin collected the dust off south America and mailed it to a fellow scientist who determined that it came from Africa. It really is amazing how connected the scientific world was, even back then. It makes me wonder what a guy like Darwin would have done with access to the Internet.

  52. Don says:

    Darwin was a keen abolitionist and while I suppose it is possible to be a racist abolitionist it seems an odd combination’ Some people make play with the sub-title of ‘Origin which includes ‘Preservation of Favoured Races…’ but that is to be obtuse.

    ‘Scientific Racism’ pre-dated Darwin and was essentially a creationist dogma to show the inherent superiority of white people and to defend slavery by showing that some people were destined to be ‘hewers of wood…’ By showing common descent Darwin effectively made the point that, as we say round here, ‘we’re a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns.’

    To Scientific Racists such as de Gobineau the reason Patagonians or Afrcans had not developed literate civilisations was that they were created as inferior and must always remain ‘savage or serf.’ By taking into account adaptation and environmental factors Darwin’s theory blew a hole in that theologically justified branch of ‘natural history.

    BTW, DH, I totally agree that Darwin remains very readable and engaging. I first stumbled upon Darwin in the school library when I was about 13. I was keen on sea-faring yarns (Hornblower, yay), had just finished reading Kon-Tiki and picked up Voyage of the Beagle in the same vein. I was enthralled and read ‘Origin’ and ‘Descent’ shortly afterwards. I even spent quite a lot of time browsing through ‘Expression of the Emotions’. That was round about the time the BBC were showing Bronowski. Sort of defined how I look at the world.

  53. Leon Zitzer says:

    Many people were against slavery but still had racist ideas of inferiority. Trollope is one example. As for evolution and connections between all creatures, that was the position of Robert Chambers who published his valid proof that species transformation and descent from a common ancestor were more probable than the theory of special creation. Darwin himself emphasized that organic life was organized in groups subordinate to groups. He saw organic life in a hierarchy.

    As for Darwin’s racism, there are people who misrepresent the evidence in an attempt just to make Darwin look bad. They don’t care about the issues, or to understand racism; they just want to allege it in a thoughtless way. To put Darwin’s racism in a nutshell: He clearly believed most of the so-called savage peoples of the world were inferior to Europeans and would become extinct strictly because they were inferior. He never asked himself if perhaps injustice was driving many native peoples to extinction. That’s a question Alfred Wallace would ask, but not Darwin. Darwin believed extinction of human groups in the world in his time was natural. James Moore and Adrian Desmond put it this way: Darwin rationalized genocide. Tony Barta (hope I have his name right) says Darwin naturalized genocide. In his youth, Darwin believed it was wrong to say that one species is higher than another, but the older Darwin had no trouble saying this. There is more to it. It is a deeply complicated issue, but there is a lot of evidence from “The Descent of Man” and other writings that he had no problem with erasing people from the earth. He even once wrote to Charles Lyell that he did not care if we are all regarded as savages one day (for all our inhumanities, it seems). There is so much more. Discussing it here is like reducing it to a soundbite.

  54. Leon Zitzer says:

    I will add one other thing. In a letter to Lyell, after Lyell had read an advance copy of “Origin”, Darwin tried to convince him that natural selection applies to intelligence also and that there were grades of intelligence from lower animals to savages to the civilized. He said he saw this process going on now which would lead to the elimination of the lower human races. He had no problem referring to lower human races and consigning them to oblivion as a result of natural selection. I’m referring to that letter to Lyell from memory, but that is roughly it.

  55. MarkyWarky says:

    Leon, I don’t wish to be rude, but my reaction to all that is “so what?”. I really don’t get what your point is; that some bloke from history was racist? What difference does it make to the knowledge we have now?

  56. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Because he thinks that we’ve deified Darwin in place of whichever version of god it is that he believes in, so he’s trying to show us the error of our ways by pointing out that Darwin wasn’t all that perfect after all. Unfortunately the negative qualities he quotes – aloof, indifferent to suffering, racist, genocidal – are among the qualities that the O.T. god was most proud of possessing, and that billions of people happily turn a blind eye to because the god also makes pretty rainbows.
    Plus, of course, like many a believer before him, Leon cannot understand the concept of not worshipping something so confuses respect and admiration for someone for deifying that someone. It’s the same chain of logic that lead to Dawkings being labelled the High-Priest of Atheism.

  57. MarkyWarky says:

    Interesting. Personally I think we probably should deify Darwin. After all, he has a head start over all the other gods, in that he actually did exist.

  58. hotrats says:

    Repeat after me, DawkinS, HawkinG, DawkinS, HawkinG….

  59. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    MarkyWarky, don’t forget the beard.

    Yes, hotrats, I know. My blind spot.

  60. Guys, I think you are being premature in shutting down Leon. He’s said nothing about believing in God, nor about deifying Darwin. He’s simply been talking about what kind of a person Darwin was, and he’s probably fairly accurate. As MarkyWarky said, so what? It doesn’t make any difference to whether his theory was good or not. But I think it’s important to resist any impulse to turn Darwin into a saint. He was what he was. Personally, I think in today’s environment he’d be anything but a racist. He was too interested in the truth. In his day he was advanced and sophisticated. Good enough. Leon has obviously paid attention to Darwin, which is something the creationists don’t do, beyond the soundbites from Answers in Genesis. Let’s cut him some slack.
    Uh, Leon… What do you say? Are you trolling and really believe there’s a magical faerie overlord and a zombie saviour? Or am I accurate in assuming you are simply a person who’s read up some of the information and doesn’t discount it? reveal yourself, lad. Let’s talk.

  61. Leon Zitzer says:

    What makes anyone think I’m a believer in any god? All I dedicate myself to is reason and evidence. My point is that irrational thinking and denial of evidence is a horror wherever it exists, whether in religious folk or in atheists. Darwin’s racism does not undermine or invalidate the theory of evolution. It only demonstrates that he was capable of misusing it in certain instances.

    I am always amazed when people find it difficult to assent to the simple proposition I mentioned above: Bad thinking is the enemy, not any one particular field. Scientists are as susceptible to illogic and fear of evidence as anyone else. In the last dozen years or so, I’ve learned two things: First, it is impossible to have a rational conversation with Christians about the historical, Jewish Jesus. Second, it is impossible to have a rational conversation with atheists or any so-called secularists about Darwin’s racism.

    MarkyWarky asked a good question: What difference does it make? For one thing, this isn’t really about Darwin, or him alone. Darwin was an example of mainstream science in his time. It is shocking how many of the best scientists of the time indulged in racist thinking. These were not kooks or outsiders. They were mainstream and their anthropology was horribly wrong. That is a stunning historical fact to learn. They did a lousy job with the evidence. They let their imperialist ideology rule. The lesson is that good science is never a fait accompli. It requires constant vigilance. And telling lies about this history and the historical Darwin is not a good start. But don’t worry your pretty little heads. Lies tend to be stronger than truth and the misinformation about Darwin will continue for a long time, especially when any attempt to look squarely at the evidence meets with such hostility.

  62. Leon Zitzer says:

    Darwin Harmless: I missed your comment above the first time around. Sorry, scrolled too fast. Thanks for your positive attitude. I did look at your site a week ago, and will visit again.

    No zombies in my repertoire. I just love historical puzzles and I especially find it fascinating when a large contingent of academics deny a large body of facts. By the way, I hate the way the Christian right misrepresents Darwin. I could force myself to look closely at only one such book by a right-wing nut. If you go to my blog, see my post for July 2012 (I only post once a month). It is entitled “The False Claims of the Christian Right” and I expose what a bad job they do with the evidence concerning Darwin. I hate that kind of garbage and I hate it when Stephen Gould or Richard Dawkins or anyone else falsifies the evidentiary record. Cheers from this side of the pond (I live in NYC).

  63. MarkyWarky says:

    Leon, I think my point is that you’re preaching to the choir. I didn’t mean to suggest that your point isn’t interesting, just that it’s not really relevant here. This site is largely used for discussion about the ludicrous claims of religions, and the fact that we do that and poke fun at them doesn’t mean we don’t see that other groups of people also get it wrong. It’s just that it’s not here that we discuss those other groups. I’m not saying don’t bring it here (I for one am interested to hear all kinds of things), I’m just asking who you thought you were making your point to?

    But, to discuss what you’ve brought up, I don’t think it IS even slightly shocking to discover that mainstream scientists had their anthropology horribly wrong, and/or were racist. I’d be stunned, as well as rather impressed, if the majority of them weren’t, given the time they lived in. In fact I’d be stunned to find that racism isn’t represented amongst scientists now in the same proportions as in the rest of society, possibly adjusted for intelligence and a propensity to seek evidence.

    Scientists do not claim to be perfect or free from prejudice/presumption. What they DO claim, which is true when science is “done right”, is that the scientific method takes no account of those prejudices and presumptions. Good scientific research can be instigated by prejudice or presumption, but if those assumptions are factually incorrect, science WILL conclude that they are regardless of the outcome the originating scientist wanted or expected. For example, a scientist could start a study to determine why black people are inferior if he wanted to and if the accepted truth in his time was that they are (so the presumption is: black people are inferior), but if the science is good it would eventually conclude that black people are NOT inferior.

    Science deals in facts. The study above could easily determine that black people suffer from certain illnesses more than white people do, or that black races tend to produce more top athletes. Those things are facts (citation required!!), and a scientist who determines them cannot be branded a racist. The facts CAN be distorted or cherry picked and then used by racists, but they remain facts, and it’s the job of science to determine such things.

    That’s not to say there isn’t bad science (ID would be an obvious example), just that, unlike religion, science is largely self correcting.

  64. Leon Zitner, thanks for the acknowledgement, and for checking out my site. I’ll make a point of checking out yours. Glad to hear you are not a zombie worshipper. I hope you stick around and get to know the crowd here. I think you bring a lot to the party. Cheers back atcha.

  65. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Darwin Harmless says:
    March 6, 2013 at 3:50 am
    Guys, I think you are being premature in shutting down Leon. He’s said nothing about believing in God, nor about deifying Darwin.

    Leon Zitzer says:
    March 3, 2013 at 5:55 pm
    Here is an unwelcome thought: Theologians and religious clerics are not the enemy. Bad thinking is the enemy, such as ignoring evidence, using preconceptions to “prove” a point, hypocrisy. It does not matter who does it. It is bad when scientists or theologians do it. If Darwin incorporates certain racist preconceptions into his work, that should be exposed. If Darwinists make Darwin into a god, that should be told.

    And from Leons own blog, http://darwinsracism.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/creating-god-academic-style.html is a post about academics deifying Darwin.
    From reading his blog, and from his haste to accuse us of deifying Darin, although it isn’t specifically mentioned one gets the feeling that he is writing from the point of view of a believer, although I may of course be wrong about that.

  66. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Shit! Did I really call Darwin ‘Darin’? Bobby would be so proud (kids, ask your grandparents).

  67. AofS yes, I checked out Leon’s blog. I don’t think he’s a believer, but he does seem to be kind of a one note obsessive.

  68. Leon Zitzer says:

    I don’t think scientists always check out their prejudices and assumptions. Theologians are easier to attack (I’ve done attacked them too) because they make it more obvious and they have less power in our society. Scientists have more power so it is harder to criticize them because of the backlash you get from academia.

    Nor is science necessarily self-correcting, with the exception of technology where science has to be self-correcting otherwise your inventions won’t work. A bridge will collapse, a cellphone won’t make calls, if you get it wrong. But in other sciences, it is not always obvious when mistakes are made and it is not obvious what the facts are. The science of the study of history is the worst offender. Historians can be positively awful relating the “facts”.

    Here is an interesting little historical tidbit. In the 1920s, in the USA, there were a lot of Jews playing basketball. Probably the real fact about this is that poor immigrants drifted into sport for the reason that poor kids do in all eras. But the experts at the time did not see it that way. They thought that Jews were biologically suited to play basketball and the game, they claimed, suited Jewish qualities like sneakiness and betrayal. They would have sworn up and down and sideways that these were facts and you would be considered an idiot if you disputed these obvious facts.

    Science requires constant vigilance, as I’ve already said. That’s my one note and a grand note it is. Maybe one day someone will put up a site that ridicules all bad thinking, all misuse of reason and facts, all preconceptions and ideology, no matter what profession is doing it, so that no profession feels superior. But that day is a long way off. I don’t believe in utopia anyway and I don’t believe evolution culminates in one profession or culture as the cream of creation.

  69. MarkyWarky says:

    Theologians are easier to attack not because they are less stringent in their efforts to examine the evidence, but because they have none, and in fact ignore what does exist, yet still try to make their work appear to be a study of something. What other area of study would do the equivalent of speculating why god remains hidden, putting extreme effort into ignoring the one obvious conclusion; he appears to be hidden because he’s not there?

    I’m not sure I accept Historical study as a science. It can be approached scientifically when the goal is to determine what actually happened, i.e. facts, as archeology demonstrates. From what I’ve seen of my daughter’s history degree study, when it comes to identifying facts it’s just as rigorous as any science is, but a lot of historical study is not about cold fact. It’s about learning lessons, about identifying motives, and about informing current decision making/moral judgements. Prejudice cannot be separated from that; you just have to hope and try to ensure that the prejudices are moral ones.

    You give an example of a prejudice from history, as if trying to make the point that modern study of those attitudes is somehow responsible for them. Is it not good scientific historical study that allows us to KNOW that those attitudes existed, and to correct them? Is your example not one of scientific historical study doing exactly what you claim it doesn’t; self correcting? I just can’t see how your example tells us anything negative about the study of history; all it tells us is that attitudes in the past were mistaken. Well, duh!

    Maybe your point is that because attitudes and even “knowledge” were mistaken in the past, they can be today and we need to be vigilant. I’d agree, but would say that most disciplines that address fact ARE vigilant in using a correct scientific method, and more to the point would say that our first and most important target is religion. With exceptions which I’m sure you’re about to point out, only religion is allowed to make wild assertions of fact without ANY evidence and even with evidence against. And we actively protect it’s right to do so!

    So no, I don’t think there should be any apology for attacking religion and (here at least), ignoring other disciplines. Until we’re rid of religion (which by the way actively teaches people NOT to look at physical evidence, and that that’s OK and even a virtue, thus contributing to that attitude elsewhere), through education not legislation, there seems little point attacking the small fry.

  70. MarkyWarky says:

    I should have clarified what I meant by “I’m not sure I accept Historical study as a science” (and not capitalised “history” either!). My point is that historical study does not have sufficient instruments to apply scientific methods fully. At the end of the day, all historians can do is take the physical evidence we do have, from archeology and contemporary writings, and interpret it. They cannot “know” what attitudes and practices were, all they can do is speculate.

    Add to that the fact that the writings historians have as evidence may themselves be tainted by the attitudes of the time, and will almost by default only reflect the attitudes etc of an educated minority, and I think historians can be forgiven for being “the worst offender”; they have the worst tools.

  71. mary2 says:

    Darwin also believed in bizarre pseudo medicine. Newton was a spiritualist. Crick believes in a god who leaves messages in waterfalls. So what? As DH mentioned earlier, even if these beliefs impacted on their scientific conclusions these conclusions have been tested and imrpoved on so many times there is barely any of the original left. It doesnt matter if you believe there is gold under a certain hill because a trance medium told you, someone with a shovel will soon validate or discredit your claim.

    I also think that a) the comparison with the methodology is disingenuous, and
    b) the suggestion that historians just make shit up and get away with it is offensive to historians. They may need to make more ‘interpretation’ than a scientist performing a double-blind controlled experiment but everyone in the field is aware that an author writes through the lens of their own culture which cannot only be taken into account but can help illuminate the times of the author as well as the studied. Historians are also subject to the scrutiny of peer review, others trying to falsify their work by following their trail, and the emergence of entirely new evidence.

    Leoon smacks of a conspiracy theorist to me. It’s all a big plot for world domination. . .

  72. mary2 says:

    Apologies: please insert “of historians” after “methodology” and remove the superfluous ‘o’s from “Leon”. Typing on the phone . . .

  73. MarkyWarky says:

    Mary, the shovel will only validate the facts of the gold’s existence. Even if it’s found, that would not support (or refute) the assertion that it was found because of a trance medium 🙂

    Of course, the believer in the trance dude would claim that it did, but he’d be wrong 🙂

  74. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Well said, Marky. Considering that he’s left several posts now, I’m still not entirely sure what Leon’s point is. As you said, historical study isn’t really a science in the generally accepted use of the word. It can involve scientific disciplines and procedures, such as archeology or radiometric dating, but the conclusions drawn from hard facts cannot usually be tested using scientific methods.
    I’d like to see some evidence for his tale about Jewish basketball players, as without evidence it sounds more like urban myth than established ‘expert opinion’ of the time. Much like the old tale that black people cannot swim because their bones are too dense and they just sink, it’s probably one of those ‘common facts’ that everybody has heard but nobody can pin down the source of the story.
    It’s interesting to me that Leon ended his last post with “I don’t believe evolution culminates in one profession or culture as the cream of creation. To my mind, anybody who has studied evolution to any degree and who believes in an evolutionary ‘apex’ either hasn’t understood evolution or is looking at it (or being taught it) from an anthropocentric viewpoint, and since we got to learnall about about genetics and DNA anybody claiming an evolutionary heirarchy among cultures is arguing from ignorance, whether wilful or not. With this in mind, I’m sure that had Darwin known about genetics, etc. he would have been less inclined to make mention of ‘inferior’ or ‘superior’ races
    So, Leon, what’s your point.

  75. mary2 says:

    If I had to pick a scientist to be deified it would be Prof Julius Sumner Miller (google him). I don’t think there are too many Australians of my vintage who can’t quote ‘Why is it so?’ in his hilarious (to us) American accent or quote his chocolate commercials word for word. I still remember the one where he gets an egg into a milk bottle (showing my age) without breaking it.

  76. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Mary, I’d rather stick to awarding hero status rather than divinity, but if I were so inclined there’s no mystery as to whom I’d deify, for billions and billions of reasons.
    An interesting aside; Darwin and his wife shared a grandfather, another personal hero of mine, Josiah Wedgwood. who was a close friend, occasional business partner, and fellow member of the famed Lunar Society (so named because they met when the moon was bright enough to permit night-time travel with relative ease) with Darwin’s paternal grandfather, Erasmus, along with many other scientific and engineering luminaries.
    See http://www.thepotteries.org/misc/Darwin.htm for a fascinating (to me, at least) insight.

  77. MarkyWarky says:

    If I had to deify a scientist, it would be Professor Alice Roberts. I’d love to enter her kingdom of heaven.

    Oops, have I gone too far? Sorry, I’ll get my coat………

    (actually, lovely looking woman though she is, it’s her enthusiasm that I find most attractive. She is exactly the type of person we need in order to get young people engaged with science)

  78. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I’m a huge fan of Dr. Roberts too, Marky, right from her early appearances on Coast. She’s an excellent communicator with unmistakeably genuine enthusiasm for her subject, pretty much like Prof. Brian Cox.
    But I think your ‘kingdom of heaven’ gag really ought to have stayed a thought. A bit too Sid James.

  79. fenchurch says:

    I can kind of see what HazelDennis is saying about Jesus never letting her down: a lot of folks named Jesus are very hard workers and are concerned for their livelihoods and families to do a good job.

    But I wouldn’t want to exclude the Pacos, the Miguels, and the Pedros. Or, the Guadalupes, the Juanas and the Conchitas.

  80. Leon Zitzer says:

    Historians often get the facts wrong. It’s not just about interpretations. E.g., scholars who call themselves historians, not theologians, of the New Testament are almost unanimous in stating that the Gospels state Judas betrayed Jesus and Jewish leaders condemned him to death. Those are false facts, and, as Darwin once pointed out, while everyone loves to disprove false theories, false facts are very difficult to dislodge. The alleged betrayal and condemnation of Jesus are theories or interpretations of evidence in the Gospels, but not facts. Yet self-proclaimed historians regularly cite these as facts.

    In the history of science, and evolutionary science in particular, historians make a lot of mistakes in facts. Darwin is most often presented as one who started a revolution and the first who proved descent from a common ancestor. Those are false facts. He could be said to have joined a revolution in progress, but did not start one. Robert Chambers proved the greater probability of the theory of common descent, using most of the same evidence that Dawin did, in his 1844 “Vestiges”, yet his accomplishment is usually erased from history. Darwin was not influenced by him, as he had independently done the same in his unpublished 1842 and 1844 essays. It was a case of two great minds thinking alike. But Chambers is always belittled and the facts of his work incorrectly reported. His accomplishment is a fact, not an interpretation. It is erased probably because he was working class and more holistic than Darwin.

    My complaint is that there is a double standard employed by admirers of Darwin. If someone pointed out that a certain theologian of the past was racist, a sexual abuser, and God (the one you don’t believe in which is fine) knows what else, you would hoot and holler and salivate like dogs to deride this theologian, which he would richly deserve. But when I pointed to Darwin’s racism, an obvious fact, most of the people here were quick to deny it or say, so what? Recently, a review of a biography of Louis Agassiz in the NY Times was happy to point out that Agassiz was a racist, but the reviewer praised Darwin for being more liberal which is really a false fact. Why one standard for Agassiz and another for Darwin? Darwin after all wrote in a letter, among other things, that in about 500 years the Anglo-Saxon race will have exterminated the lower races and as a result, mankind will have risen higher. Why is it so hard to admit the facts about Darwin? Why is the history of science so hard to tell correctly?

  81. MarkyWarky says:

    Darwin’s racism or otherwise is irrelevant to his work, or at least to what we now have as a result of it. Theologians on the other hand claim to interpret moral guidance given by imaginary friends, and try to apply it to the rest of us, so their own moral conduct is entirely relevant.

    I don’t give a damn about the moral standards of the guy who developed the drugs that keep me healthy, but the guy who tries to tell him he’s not allwed to use all of the research tools available, in order to save even more lives, bloody well better be whiter than white if he wants me to even begin listening to him.

  82. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Hear! Hear! MarkyWarky.

    Leon, we all understand what it is you’re saying, but you’re telling us nothing we didn’t already know.
    Darwin was working without the benefits of an education in genetics and DNA because he was living in a time before we even had blood-type grouping, so his method of investigation would chiefly consist of observation and comparison. He would have noted the competition for food and territory between different varieties of birds, or big cats, or primates, and would naturally have extended his conclusions to the varieties – or races – of humans. So, if you were Darwin, a member of an Empire on which the Sun never set, an Empire whose citizens were assured of their own superiority, and you wanted to speculate on the future of the human race, who would your money be on to survive in the long term? The non-industrial, non-technical, almost Stone-Age hunter-gatherers and scratch farmers? Or the mighty, industrial, technological, highly (in comparison) educated, and heavily armed Anglo-Saxons?
    And I’m still waiting for some independent evidence for your claim over Jewish basketball players.

  83. WalterWalcarpit says:

    Whiter that white? Where on earth might a phrase like that get its meaning?
    Oh! A soap commercial.
    Everything is worth a second look.

  84. Dan says:

    I think the double standard arises because Theology has no proper method.
    It has no evidence, no basis in fact and its pronouncements can never be separate from the individual credibility of the person who pronounces them.
    Religion is, after all, a set of entirely arbitrary beliefs that you are never obliged to accept (not by legitimate means anyway!) except by submitting your credulity to the another person.
    Religion is just a continuing cult of personal credibility.

    There’s also this ridiculous and obviously false claim that somehow religious belief makes you a better person. It’s natural that people should point out that it does no such thing and has at least some significant track record of quite the opposite.
    I don’t think anyone ever said accepting the theory of evolution made you a better person or that Darwin’s spiritual superiority was a reason to accept his claims.

  85. MarkyWarky says:

    WalterWalcarpit, from the almost universally intuitive idea (regardless of your skin colour), that the colour white represents purity. Trying to turn it into a racists phrase just draws attention to tensions that don’t need to exist. Or should we stop saying “in the black” to indicate the POSITIVE condition of not being in debt?

  86. WalterWalcarpit says:

    MarkyWarky, that was precisely my point. One shouldn’t leap to conclusions with the same impotence of a knee jerking when it’s tendon is struck.

    Leon’s apparent frustration with the heights to which Darwin has been raised (exacerbated I am sure by the plentiful anniversary celebrations of recent years) is founded on the fascinating fact that others were arriving at similar conclusions simultaneously. If ever there was an idea whose time had come it was the theory of evolution – three omnipotent words that Darwin was brilliant enough to put together.
    Darwin probably does have hero status for me and, as you point out, any flaws he might have had are irrelevant to the progress humanity was able make after him. But he is not a god and Leon is foolish to even suggest such rubbish as anyone worshipping him in such a manner.
    Likewise it is foolish to presume Leon must himself be a theist or that cartoons are instruction manuals or even incendiary devices.

    Everything deserves a second look, surely that is the scientific method?

    NBH, on the other hand, is a complete mystery.

  87. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    WalterWalcarpit says:
    March 11, 2013 at 12:20 am
    MarkyWarky, that was precisely my point. One shouldn’t leap to conclusions with the same impotence of a knee jerking when it’s tendon is struck. [….]Likewise it is foolish to presume Leon must himself be a theist or that cartoons are instruction manuals or even incendiary devices.

    Of course it’s foolish to presume, and I’ve held my hand up over the stoning graphics, but a little research suggests that I’m correct in my claim that Leon is indeed religious. Have a little read of his About Me page on his main blog where he states “…Being Jewish, I told him that I was not ready yet but would let him know.
    At the time, I was very immersed in learning more about my own religion….
    . As he doesn’t go on to say that he has lost his religion despite his studies into it (and to be fair to Leon, his research is very thorough, or anal, to use his own phrase from the linked page) then one has to assume that he is still a religious man.

    And he still hasn’t cited evidence for his Jewish basketball players claim.

  88. WalterWalcarpit says:

    Yeah, I’m waiting for some sources for that one too – sounds rather much an urban myth to me. And if Leon considers himself a historian better than those he criticises so highly he had should have so good ones.

    I’ve finally checked out Leon’s blog. And he is more than one note obsessive, he has a full on trinity going there. A rant on historians’ alleged refusal to acknowledge racism in Darwin’s nature (weirdly attributed to their treatment of the man as a god).
    A novel approach to a study of a decade ago of Jesus the Jew approached from a studied Jewish perspective, it seems. (Hey, Leon, if no publishers would touch it then take a look at where Author publishes J&M.)
    And, perhaps most interesting in this context, a briefer bunch of blogs under a heading of science, religion and morality.

    So I think I have worked him out.
    Leon isn’t a believer.
    Indeed he isn’t religious.
    He is spiritual.
    Now who was it that came out with that recently?

  89. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    “Now who was it that came out with that recently?”

    Would it have been a certain Jewish patriarch making the comment that made Barmaid be sick in her mouth?
    At risk of sounding like a one-note obsessive myself, I still think Leon is being non-committal over his religious belief. When DH asked earlier in this thread “Are you trolling and really believe there’s a magical faerie overlord and a zombie saviour?” his reply made no denial of the overlord, he simply said “No zombies in my repertoire.”. Of course there aren’t, followers of Judaism don’t believe in a resurrected saviour god. But more telling is his statement on his other blog’s ‘About Me’ page I mentioned in my last post, where he talks about being ‘a Jew immersed in learning more about my own religion’ (not theJewish religion, but specifically his own religion. That other blog, by the way, is called historicaljesusghost.
    Now, who in their right mind would refer to their religion if they weren’t religious? And it will be cheating if anybody answers that nobody in their right mind would be religious anyway 😉

  90. MarkyWarky says:

    Nobody in their right mind would be religious anyway 🙂

  91. MarkyWarky says:


    I think you’re mistaken though AoS. In the UK, a huge number of people refer to their religion when they have not one ounce of belief. It’s perceived as a cultural identity, not a declaration of belief.

    My business partner is one of them, and it makes my blood boil. On census and all other forms, he always answers that he’s Christian, even though he believes in god no more than I do. What he means is “I’m white Anglo Saxon and don’t want my culture and traditions sidelined by other immigrants” (he’s not racist, but he is anti-imigration).

    It’s because of people doing what he does that we still have way too much influence from religion in our schools and government still in the UK, including the obscene legal requirement for a daily act of, principally Christian, worship in schools, unless the parent wants to ostracise his offspring by withdrawing them from assembly.

    I’d suggest that identifying yourself by your culture’s religion, regardless of what you actually believe, is even more prevalent amongst Jewish people than it is amongst British Christians (citation required :))

  92. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I may indeed be mistaken, Marky, and I said as much in an earlier post (March 6, 5:18pm)

    …one gets the feeling that he is writing from the point of view of a believer, although I may of course be wrong about that..

    But I can’t for the life of me figure out why, if he’s an atheist, he would accuse fellow atheists of deifying Darwin. I don’t think he’s playing atheist one-upmanship (I’m a better atheist than you because I don’t create false gods out of scientists), and I can’t see a serious scholar (even a self-professed one) making mention of ‘his own’ religion without qualifying it further, because that ambiguity just leaves him open to accusations of arguing from a religious standpoint.
    There is, of course, only one person who cam clarify this, so what do you say, Leon? Why make mention of your religion if you’re not religious? And where’s the citations for your Jewish basketball players story?

  93. WalterWalcarpit says:

    Yeah. Leon, come on out! Only you can settle this. Are you properly religious, or are you going to side with Moses and sit on the spiritual fence?
    Or did you really drop into the Cock & Bull just to pick a fight by disrespecting one of our elders – and then leave when all you manage to provoke is “so what?”

  94. WalterWalcarpit says:

    MarkyWarky, you are so right. I live in Northern Ireland these days, a place that is coming to terms with an extremely long recent past in its own unique way. As part of that and partly as survey and partly as a form of political correctness many monitoring forms eventually ask the question “What is your perceived community?” The choices being Protestant, Catholic and Other.
    Three things stand out here – ‘Neither’ is not an option and Athiest is hardly catered for by ‘Other’. But as always here it is perception that is pernicious (some forms even declare that if the respondent declines to provide an answer the analyst will deduce one) and thus if one were able to declare oneself an Athiest the cycle begins again with “Are you a Protestant or a Catholic Athiest?”

    Frankly while there is a scary amount of fundamentalism here but I am very sure that a significant number of people declare their brand of religion as a political badge even if they have not the slightest faith in the practice of it.

  95. Tony says:

    Just found this site and love it ! as opposed to the current Govt in Oz it is religious humour !!! As to my own religious beliefs I just took all good bits out of all the religions ( most of which are in the same book in various languages ) mixed it with a fair dose of doctrines and rolled them up into a ball and washed it down with some pure water !! Boy was that a hard pell to swallow !!


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