Thursday, May 8, 2008

Praying For Judges

The video below is of a prayer offered during the National Day of Prayer for right-wing, anti-abortion justices.

Two questions. First, do you think she really means all the manifestations of religious freedom? Does that include the freedom not to believe? And second, if this prayer isn't answered, and they don't get their right wing appointments, does that mean that it was God's will that the judiciary be stocked with pro-choicers and people who will uphold the separation of church and state enshrined in the constitution? Or will it just mean that prayer doesn't work?

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Anti-Choice Logic 101 - Abortion is Gross! Make it Illegal!

One of the things you often hear from anti-choicers when questioned about their use of grotesque photographs in attempting to shock people into believing as they do (rather than, say, using reason), is that abortion really is grotesque. That's what these people have to say in response to this challenge (note also the incoherence of what the latter commenter has to say. Why did they even publish that?) If you see what an abortion is, you’ll know it’s wrong. This is an argument, of sorts, and the argument is “This shocks your sensibilities, therefore it is wrong and should be illegal.”

Well, let’s get this straight. First, many of the pictures that are commonly used are misleading on their own. But even if they were pictures of what they purported to be, you’re arguing that we ought to ban all abortions because some of them are gross. And there are two things wrong with this argument. First, not all abortions are as grotesque or as shocking to our sensibilities as the pictures that anti-choicers favor. According to Guttmacher, 89% of abortions occur in the first trimester, and nearly 2/3 are performed before 9 weeks. Those abortion photos (when accurate) wouldn’t look anything like the anti-choice poster boy, Baby Malachi.

But the photos may still be disturbing. And this leads us to the other fault in using such photos as evidence that abortion should be illegal. There are lots of things that would really gross us out if we saw pictures of them. Don’t believe me? Try this one on for size (warning: you will likely be grossed out). Don’t you think that what happened to that poor sweet baby should be illegal? Isn't that just disgusting? Or how about this (again, warning). Looks an awful lot like some of the abortion photos, doesn’t it? In a way, it is an abortion photo. Note the little hand, almost gripping onto the forceps, and the hair just starting to grow on its little contorted head. Its life was ended prematurely, as it was ripped from that which sustained it. Shouldn’t that disgusting procedure be illegal too?

Well, the first image is a harlequin baby. Nature did that, terrible as it is. The second is actually an embryo that, through one of nature’s weird flukes, became a tumor. It’s a teratoma. It’s a twin, if you will, that failed to develop in utero, was absorbed by its sibling, and then spontaneously began to grow later. Its removal was not necessarily required to save the life of the host, but would you really want that thing growing inside you?

So what’s upshot of all this? The fact that something is disgusting, or really makes your stomach turn, or whatever, isn’t reason to make it illegal. This is the most common “argument” made by anti-choicers. And it’s completely fallacious.

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

Science Does What?

Ben Stein recently made the following claim:

When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers, talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you... Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

As a result of this comment, Stein made Olbermann's list of worst persons. I won't waste my time refuting this extremely tired claim that science led to the holocaust. If you can't understand why that argument is both offensive and just plain stupid, then you really need to do some research. But Stein isn't just claiming here that evolutionary theory leads to eugenics. He's claiming that science leads to killing people while God leads to good things. Hmm... for some reason the crusades, the inquisition, the witch hunts, 9/11, 7/7, bombings of abortion clinics, etc have come to mind.

At any rate, when Stein made this statement, I was immediately reminded of the video below. In it Thunderf00t (who, by the way, totally rocks my youtube world) shows us what science really leads to. I blush a little to admit it, but this video moves me every time I watch it. Dawkins once said that "science is the poetry of reality". This video, to my mind, is evidence for that claim.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Quick and Dirty

More proof abstinence-only education doesn't work.

Creationists keep asking for evidence of evolution. Well, on top of all of this, now there is this.

And Priests plagiarizing sermons. Is it really that hard? The book's already been written for you!

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And yet another

Another good video about Expelled.

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Oh How Close We Are

Images of an Orangutan attempting to hunt fish by using a stick as a spear. Hmmm... we're so far above them, are we?

If you watch Orangutan Island, as I do (my two favorite reality shows don't involve people at all), you've already things very similar to this (although not exactly this - this is the diamond on the crown, so far). You've also seen Orangutans like this one laughing, playing, sharing, and slowly developing a social structure. These primates are typically solitary, but since their habitat is being destroyed, they are attempting to get these rescued Orangutans to form a society, which would make it possible for them to live in a smaller range.

This is just one more bit of evidence that we need to recognize that we humans in our great "rationality" are not as superior as so many think we are (I'm talking to you, Kantians, Pragmatists and fundagelicals). We need to recognize that these amazing and beautiful creatures deserve respect.

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Science Marches Onward

And we all benefit. I have not the words to describe this incredible breakthrough. You'll have to watch for yourself. Warning, there are some graphic images.


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