Don’t Miss “Surviving Exodus” on all Discovery networks, Thurs, Dec 4, 2014 at 8/7c

Surviving Exodus on Discovery ChannelIf we were to set aside the fact that there is no archaeological evidence of the Exodus (early or late), and that there are internal chronological discrepancies within the biblical accounts of the Exodus, we can still ask the question: what would it be like to experience the literary account of the Ten Plagues?

The answer to this question will be explored on the new documentary special, “Surviving Exodus“, which will air Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 8pm eastern / 7pm central on all Discovery network channels simultaneously. That’s right, Discovery Channel, Science, The Learning Channel, Animal Planet, American Heroes Channel, and Investigation Discovery will all be airing the documentary simultaneously at 8/7c.

Discovery’s description reads as follows:

“Exodus is one of the greatest stories of all time, and Ridley Scott turned it into an epic movie. Now Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and a team of experts and scientists are going to experience the Ten Plagues and the parting of the Red Sea first hand.”

Others appearing in the show include Terry Schappert, Dave Salmoni, Hakeem Oluseyi, and yours truly.

In fact, Science will be airing episodes of a previous documentary series I worked with, “Biblical Mysteries Explained”, before and after “Surviving Exodus”.

7:00 PM – Biblical Mysteries Explained: Exodus
Biblical Mysteries Explained examines the Exodus. Is there any truth to this tale of plagues, parting of the Red Sea, and a man named Moses? New scientific theories will be examined that support the extraordinary tale of Exodus.

8:00 PM – Surviving Exodus

9:00 PM – Biblical Mysteries Explained: Lost Gospels
Biblical Mysteries Explained examines the lost books of the Bible. We’ll travel from the desert of Egypt to the labs of the Smithsonian Institution to uncover the secrets of the banned gospels of Mary Magdalene, Peter the Apostle, and Judas Iscariot.

10:00 PM – Biblical Mysteries Explained: Sodom and Gomorrah
Biblical Mysteries Explained examines the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. Could their destruction be linked to evidence of an ancient asteroid strike?

So if you were thinking to yourself, “Man, I could go for 4 hours of Cargill on TV tonight,” you’re in luck. ;-)

It’s a fun concept. Tune in and watch.

New Pew Poll Shows Republicans, Evangelicals Least Likely to Accept Evolution

A new Pew research poll on the “Public’s Views on Human Evolution” was released presenting data that backs up what many political and religious scholars have suspected for some time: that white Evangelical Republicans (particularly older ones) constitute the group that most rejects the basic scientific principle of human evolution via natural selection.

The results are simultaneously unbelievable and yet quite typical, or at the very least, expected.

While only 33% of adult Americans still don’t accept human evolution via natural selection, opting instead to believe that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time”, THAT NUMBER NEARLY DOUBLES TO 64% among white evangelical protestants(!) AND, of those white evangelical protestants that did accept evolution, half of them said that a “supreme being guided [the] process.” As a point of comparison, a majority of Catholics (both white, 68%, and Hispanic, 53%) accept human evolution.

But what is truly disturbing is the continued religio-political marriage between the Republican party and white Evangelicals (the most fundamentalist of whom are spearheading the even more conservative Tea Party movements). While a majority of Independents (65%) and Democrats (67%) accept evolution as the origin of humankind, A MAJORITY OF REPUBLICANS NOW REJECT EVOLUTION – with 48% of Republicans saying that humans “existed in present from since the beginning”, and only 43% of Republicans accepting evolution. And incredulously, unlike trends in nearly every other demographic where science and science education appear to (finally!) be taking root and acceptance of human evolution is increasing, THE PERCENTAGE OF REPUBLICANS ACCEPTING EVOLUTION IS ACTUALLY DOWN 11%(!!) over the past four years, from 54% in 2009 to 43% in 2013.

No wonder many think the Republican party is out of touch. Statistically, Republicans are actually getting DUMBER scientifically! Then again, look at the recent major Republican political candidates and their religious views. Good grief!

Also of note in the survey:

  • Men accept evolution more than women (65% to 55%).
  • Not surprisingly, college graduates accept evolution far more than those with a high school or less education (72% to 51%).
  • And again not surprisingly, younger demographics consistently accept evolution more than their older counterparts, with 68% of those ages 18-29 accepting evolution, roughly 60% of those ages 30-64, but only 49% of those 65 and older accepting evolution. This is likely due to a number of factors, including an increased acceptance of science and scientific principles among high school and college students, the rise of the Internet and the availability of credible information about evolution – information that is not always taught by parents and pastors, and it is also likely a reflection of the increasing rejection of traditional religious institutions by younger generations.

In sum, we now have hard data to support what many of us have observed for some time now: a correlation between older generations, white Evangelicals, the Republican party, and a rejection of one of the basic principles of science, namely human evolution via natural selection.

We can take hope, however, that among both Christian and non-religious groups alike, there is an overall increase in the acceptance of human evolution via natural selection, and that those still rejecting evolution appear to be limited to groups that are lesser educated, Evangelical, and of older ages. Again, this is likely due to an increased acceptance of science and scientific principles among younger generations, the Internet’s ability to provide increasingly credible information about evolution and information demonstrating the fallacies (both scientific and religious) of Creationism, and the increasingly pervasive stigma that Creationism is associated with old, white, conservative, Evangelical Republicans who are out of touch with science, reality, and the majority of the people.


UPDATE: I had the wrong URL in the initial link to the Pew study. It now correctly links to the study.

Philosophy, Metaphysics, Theology, and Science All Summed Up with the Black Cat Analogy

The Black Cat Analogy of Philosophy, Metaphysics, Theology, and Science
(With a HT and thanks to Spreading Science.)

Philosophy is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat.
Metaphysics is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there.
Theology is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that isn’t there and shouting, “I’ve found it!”
Science is like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat using a flashlight.

The Black Cat Analogy of Philosophy, Metaphysics, Theology, and Science

NonStampCollector Comments on the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

NonStampCollector (@nonstampNSC; YouTube; blog) has just posted a short comment on attempts to use Christianity – and especially Christian appeals to biblical mythological accounts like the story of Adam and Eve – in the fight against same-sex marriage in the modern state.

In short, the reason so many otherwise sensible Christians oppose same-sex marriage is Jesus’ appeal to the “marriage” of Adam and Eve in Matthew 19:4-6. In this passage, Matthew records Jesus as speaking about divorce, and in doing so, citing the mythological story of Judaism’s primordial humans, Adam and Eve.

Matthew 19:4-6 reads:

Matt. 19:4 He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’”
Matt. 19:5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?
Matt. 19:6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (NRSV)

Note that Matthew records Jesus as having done a little prooftexting of his own, pulling from the summaries of the two different creation accounts in Genesis.

Gen. 1:27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (NRSV)

and

Gen 2:24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. (NRSV)

Matthew records Jesus as pulling from two different texts to defend his stance on divorce, specifically, that Christians should NOT divorce.

AND YET, we see no constitutional amendment on state ballots banning divorce, and prohibiting divorced individuals from remarrying, but rather, we find conservative and fundamentalist Christians lining up and spending all kinds money to ban and prohibit same-sex marriage, EVEN THOUGH the text is CLEARLY talking about divorce.

It is yet another example of conservative and fundamentalists deliberately ignoring the glaringly obvious context of the biblical passage (divorce), and instead using said verse to prooftext against something the passage is not at all addressing (same-sex marriage).

So to clarify, conservative and fundamentalist Christians are citing a scientifically debunked primordial religious creation myth from nearly three millennia ago, and then using it out of context in an effort to suppress the modern rights of gay Americans in a state that is founded on the principle that the church and state should be separate.

That is just how far conservative and fundamentalist Christians must stretch – how far they must contort the Bible as well as the founding principles of this country – just to suppress the rights of other Americans. They must cite:

“a moral imperative implied (out of context I might add), within an ancient Middle Eastern story involving a woman made of a man’s rib, being convinced by a talking snake to eat the fruit of a magical tree.”

THAT’S the rationale for denying homosexual Americans the same right of marriage that heterosexual Americans enjoy: magic trees, talking snakes, rib-women, and primordial mythology.

Of course, the real reason this argument is even entertained at all is the much larger problem, which just also happens to be the reason why so many conservative and fundamentalist Christians still cling to the historicity of the six-day creation and worldwide flood myths, despite all of the scientific and contradictory intertextual biblical evidence against them: Jesus quoted them both!

Jesus refers to Adam and Eve in Matthew 19:4-6, and their child Abel in Luke 11:50-51 (and their parallels), and to the flood in Luke 17:27 (and its parallels). And if Jesus referred to things that are mythological or ahistorical or simply did not happen, then people might question his all-knowingness, and maybe even his divinity. And thus, many conservative and fundamentalist Christians cling to scientifically debunked primordial myths, despite all the evidence to the contrary, just so they don’t have to deal with the problem that Jesus is recorded as having appealed to debunked creation and flood myths.

So while they’re at it, why not just take the quotes out of context and use them to oppress gays as well. It makes just as much sense…to fundamentalists.

Anyway, watch NonStampCollector’s video.

Iowa City Darwin Day Celebrations begin Feb 7, 2013

Iowa City Darwin Day

Iowa City Darwin Day celebrations are Feb 7-9, 2013.

Darwin Day 2013 is officially is Feb. 12 (Charles Darwin’s birthday). And to help celebrate, the 2013 Iowa City Darwin Day celebrations will be held February 7th – 9th.

As in previous years, 2013 will welcome a slate of world-renowned scientists who will share their research in a series of professional seminars and public talks. This year the theme is: “The Origins of Life on Earth”.

Click here for a schedule of events.

This year’s celebration is brought to you by the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the University of Iowa Department of Biology, the University of Iowa Pentacrest Museums (Museum of Natural History and Old Capitol Museum), and the Perry A. and Helen Judy Bond Fund for Interdisciplinary Interaction.

And if you can’t make it to Iowa City for our Darwin Day celebration, check out the international Darwin Day website for a schedule of events to find one near you.

Lest We Forget, Mitt Romney Mocked Rising Ocean Levels and Climate Change

Lest we forget, Mitt Romney openly mocked rising ocean levels and climate change only a few months ago.

And anti-intellectual and anti-science conservative Republicans cheered him at their national convention.

(HT: Joe. My. God.)

why fundamentalist evangelical republican politicians scare me (and should scare you too)

Georgia Congressman Paul Broun

Georgia Congressman Paul Broun, standing in front of a wall of mounted animal heads, tells the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet that he does not believe in “evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory”, which he defines as “lies straight from the pit of Hell”. Broun is a Republican representative on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

This is the US Congressman from Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, Dr. Paul Broun. He is a member of the Republican Party and the Tea Party Caucus.

He recently gave a speech to the “Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet” (yes, THAT exists, I kid you not) on September 27, 2012, in Hartwell, Georgia. (This explains the WALL OF MOUNTED ANIMAL HEADS that serves as a backdrop for the Congressman.)

Watch a clip of the speech:

Here is the transcript of what he said:

God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.

And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason as your congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.

Now, I’ve come to accept that there are some people on this earth that will NEVER accept science, no matter how logical, rational, or intellectually compelling it is because they are not interested in facts; they are interested in maintaining the beliefs and worldview compiled thousands of years ago by desert nomads. But this is not the problem.

Every American has every right to be religious. And every American has every right to make religious speech (just not in places where others are compelled to listen to it or participate in it, like public schools). And every American has the right, if they so choose, to deny reality. You can argue that aliens created human technology, Santa Claus, whatever – you have that right.

Every American, if they so choose, can choose to deny basic science, facts, and data. That too is OK…foolish, but within one’s constitutional rights. Likewise, every American has the right to elect as their representative someone reflects their skewed, ancient, and defunct worldview – a representative who also denies facts and information that science provides. Therefore, even though such behavior is utterly foolish IMHO, Americans have the right to believe what they want, deny reality if they want, and elect someone as their representative who reflects the denial of science, facts, and reality. It’s foolish, but they have these rights as Americans. This too is not the problem.

The real problem, and what frustrates me to no end, is that the Republican Party would place someone like Paul Broun, who obviously has a disdain for science and the factual reality of the world around us, to THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, SPACE, AND TECHNOLOGY! Forget the fact that he’s been married four times. Forget the fact that he’s a Conservative Evangelical. These aren’t the problem. The problem is that, based upon his fundamentalist religious convictions, he DENIES the fundamental tenets of science. Yet, despite this, the Republicans named him the CHAIR of the SCIENCE SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS AND OVERSIGHT!

The Republicans bring this upon themselves.

While I’m sure the Medical College of Georgia is embarrassed to have Dr. Broun represent them as an alum who rejects the “lies” of basic medical disciplines like “embryology” and other tenets of basic science, they can’t help what he chooses to believe and deny today. But the Republicans can! The Republicans do themselves a major disservice when they promulgate the perception – one rightly deserved – that they are anti-science, and that they are anti-science precisely because they are conservative Evangelicals.

Do you see the problem? The Republicans don’t have to promote a scientifically ignorant congressman to the Committee on Science. Yet, they do. Thus, the Republicans completely deserve to continue to be chided as the party of anti-intellectualism and anti-science, because they continue to elevate people who see no possible compatibility between their faith and the reality of the worldview that basic science has provided. For fundamentalist Evangelical Republicans, faith and science are an either-or choice. And they choose faith. And that’s OK. But that the GOP elevates them and puts them in places of authority over budgets and curriculum for science and technology, this is the problem.

I shake my head.

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