Sometimes when discussing reason it's easy to get a bit too lofty about ideals such as the scientific method. I'm not knocking the method - it's the only way we can reliably find out about the world. Sometimes however the work of a scientist is not quite so elegant - years of hard slog through jungles or equations (or sometimes both) to get the tantalising first glimpse of new knowledge. I'm not convinced parapsychology will ever pay off - but it's only by trying to bring it into the umbrella of natural science that it can. Of course, if it can't be bought into line factually and methodologically with natural science, then.....
In the UK it seems that most people are Obama fans (particularly are our US ex-pats). So as a Christmas present here is some mad preacher going a bit mental about the smallest of things. If you don't like it you'll get a left hook!
"After hosting a panel earlier this year to discuss supposed flaws in evolutionary theory, Italy's science agency the National Research Council (CNR) reportedly put up thousands of dollars to help with the publication of a follow-up book, Evolutionism: The Decline of an Hypothesis. The move has vexed many scientists in the country where the Vatican recently came out in support of Darwin's ideas.
Authored by CNR's Vice President Roberto de Mattei, the book asserts, among other things, that scientific dating of rocks is inaccurate and that dinosaurs went extinct just 40,000 years ago (rather than some 65 million years ago, not accounting for modern birds, of course), according to the blog ScienceInsider. The American Academy for the Advancement of Science blog notes that an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, is reporting that CNR provided 9,000 Euros (some $13,255) to help publish the book, which came out last month. "
This really is the last thing we need. Imagine if AAAS or the Royal Society was found doing this.
Source: Scientific American: Italy science council funds creationist book
"the gap between age groups arises not because individuals become more religiously committed as they get older, but because children are less religious than their parents. The results suggest that institutional religion in Britain now has a half-life of one generation, to borrow the terminology of radioactive decay. Two non-religious parents successfully transmit their lack of religion. Two religious parents have roughly a 50/50 chance of passing on the faith. One religious parent does only half as well as two together."
via The Guardian: Where have all the believers gone?
"It's the ones who think they know what there is to be known that we have to look out for. 'All is explained in this text - there is nothing else you need to know,' they tell us. For thousands of years we put up with this kind of thing. Those who said, 'Hang on, I think we might be ignorant, let's see...' were made to drink poison, or had their eyes put out and their bowels drawn out through their botties."
- Stephen Fry in The Book of General Ignorance.
BBC heavy-weight John Humphrys had added his support to a campaign for non-believers to have a say on the Today Programme's Thought For the Day on BBC Radio 4.
Humphrys has previously written a book, In God We Doubt, which discusses his life an agnostic.
"People are relieved to know the condition [of homosexuality] is both treatable and preventable."
Right. That makes sense. The Catholic church seems to be developing a more extreme response to homosexuality, encouraging people to remain chaste, or trying to convert them.
This does nothing for the church, and on top of that may cause severe damage to the people that it tries to change. Good move?
This is a sad story of how a mother let her children starve rather than look for a job or food. The reason, she was waiting for god to provide. Well, he didn't. Thankfully this isn't a valid excuse for neglecting your children, so I hope the mother gets some help.
After a break of a few months Sarah Palin has again appeared in the UK media. This time she is keen to promote religion views and opinions in government.
"No one person has all the right answers. It takes a united nation, and it does take godly counsel, and it takes prayer and answers to prayer - and a collective humble heart of a nation seeking God's hand of protection and his blessings of prosperity."
"I think if we can get back to that, our country will be a safer, more prosperous and healthier nation."
Of course, religious states are well known for their love and humanity. What we really need is people who are intelligent enough and competent to make tough choices based on the best available evidence.
Source: The Telegraph
Mrs Cody, a 44-year-old mother from Massachusetts, spotted a likeness of Jesus in the residue on the burnt bottom of her old iron.
She immediately told her two daughters, who said "Mom, that's Jesus looking at us."
The medical secretary said the siting had renewed her religious faith. The image, which she first noticed last week, had reassured her that "life is going to be good", she said.
She added that she would keep her old iron - but would buy a new one for everyday use.
It's called coincidence. I bet you can find images resembling most people if you look at enough irons! It's certainly not something to take solace from.
Source: Jesus appears on iron, US woman claims, The Telegraph
The well know crack-pot Prince Charles has met Health Secretary Andy Burnham to try and persuade him to protect homeopathic "medicine". Yes, that's right, we need to protect people who sell water to the sick telling them it's medicine.
At least the Royal College of Physicians has the right idea, opposing the licensing of homeopaths on the grounds it may make them "respectable".
Copyright Ed Baker