Saturday, June 9, 2007

Creation Museum website - Lauren

So in Googling the creation museum as part of my review of material for our final, I found its official website!

Here it is:

It says very prominently next to the logo "Prepare to believe."

The about page says (scroll to the bottom):
"The Bible speaks for itself at the Creation Museum. We’ve just paved the way to a greater understanding of the tenets of creation and redemption. Our exhibit halls are gilded with truth, our gardens teem with the visible signs of life."

The brochure (downloadable from the about page) also makes some interesting statements, my favorite of which was "There will be those who sneer, but some will be challenged to think, and still others may come to believe" (last page of brochure). Maybe if the definition of think has been change to "to brainwash". The brochure ends with this statement: "It is a valuable, unprecedented resource for information and education, enabling us to always be ready to give an answer (a reasoned, logical defense) for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15)." Again, I think they have changed some definitions, namely the definitions of reasoned and logical.

In both quotes, boldfaced/italicized emphases are mine. Perhaps I am biasing the reader? No more so than is the museum. Though it does make me prouder to be related to chimpanzees than to be related to creationist humans.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Democrats fare no better - Bob

Below,I have stolen in toto, Molleen's recent posting to the rational thought group.
Does religion transcend politics???

WASHINGTON - In a rare public discussion of her husband's infidelity,
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said
Monday that she probably could not have gotten through her marital
troubles without relying on her faith in God

Clinton stood by her actions in the aftermath of former President
Clinton's admission that he had an affair, including presumably her
decision to stay in the marriage.

"I am very grateful that I had a grounding in faith that gave me the
courage and the strength to do what I thought was right, regardless of
what the world thought," Clinton said during a forum where the three
leading Democratic presidential candidates talked about faith and values.

"I'm not sure I would have gotten through it without my faith," she said
in response to a question about how she dealt with the infidelity.

The forum, sponsored by the liberal Sojourners/Call to Renewal evangelical
organization, provided an uncommon glimpse into the most personal beliefs
of Clinton and rivals John Edwards and Barack Obama (news, bio,
voting record). The three candidates were invited by Sojourners founder
Jim Wallis; most of the other Democratic candidates appeared on CNN later
Monday to discuss their faith.

The most intimate question came about the Clintons' relationship, one of
the world's most debated marriages but one that the husband and wife
rarely speak openly about.

Clinton said she's "been tested in ways that are both publicly known and
those that are not so well known or not known at all." She said it's those
times when her personal faith and the prayers of others sustain her.

"At those moments in time when you are tested, it is absolutely essential
that you be grounded in your faith," she said.

Edwards revealed that he prays - and sins - every day. The crowd gasped
loudly when moderator Soledad O'Brien asked Edwards to name the biggest
sin he ever committed, and he won their applause when he said he would
have a hard time naming one thing.

"I sin every single day," said Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential
nominee. "We are all sinners and we all fall short."

Edwards, wearing a purple tie to match Sojourners' signature color,
promoted himself as the candidate most committed to the group's mission of
fighting poverty. He said he doesn't feel his belief in evolution is
inconsistent with his belief in Christ and he doesn't personally feel gays
should be married, although as president he wouldn't impose his belief
system on the rest of the country.

"I have a deep and abiding love for my Lord, Jesus Christ," Edwards said,
but he said the United States shouldn't be called a Christian nation.

He said he has been going to church since he was a child and was baptized
as a teen. He said he strayed from his faith as an adult and it came
"roaring back" when his teenage son died in 1996.

"It was the Lord that got me through that," Edwards said, along with both
of his wife's cancer diagnoses.

Clinton acknowledged that talking about her religious beliefs doesn't come
naturally to her.

"I take my faith very seriously and very personally," she said. "And I
come from a tradition that is perhaps a little too suspicious of people
who wear their faith on their sleeves."

Each candidate was given 15 minutes to appear before the packed auditorium
at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium and a live audience on
CNN. They were questioned by O'Brien and by church leaders across the

Obama's appearance focused more on policy than the personal. Asked whether
he agreed with President Bush's portrayal of the current global
struggles in terms of good verses evil, Obama said there is a risk in
viewing the world in such terms.

He said he believes that the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, were the
result of evil. But he said that the United States' treatment of prisoners
at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay is unjust.

"The danger of using good verses evil in the context of war is that it may
lead us to be not as critical as we should about our own actions," Obama
said to applause.


Molleen Matsumura
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SEE MY LATEST column at

Sagar's New and Hot (Extra)

We have talked a lot about that famous question during the Republican presidential debates: Who here does not believe in evolution? Raise your hands. And we have talked about the three candidates that did raise their hands and wondered what they were thinking. Well wait no more! On May 31, in an Op-Ed in the New York Times, Sam Brownback, the junior senator from Kansas and one of the three who raised his hand, presented his thoughts. I have posted his letter below. The letter was very interesting in that Brownback tried to seem knowledgeable about evolutionary science talking about such things as punctuated equilibrium. He most likely read up on evolution AFTER getting made fun of for raising his hand. To the uninformed reader, he sounds like he knows his science and is accurately describing the scientific community. He is very articulate albeit illogical in his arguments and would make a person on the fence about Brownback's intelligence feel that Brownback is a smart man. Even though this letter presents many, many lies, I admire it for its rhetorical smoothness if you will.

Here it is:

What I Think About Evolution

By Sam Brownback

In our sound-bite political culture, it is unrealistic to expect that every complicated issue will be addressed with the nuance or subtlety it deserves. So I suppose I should not have been surprised earlier this month when, during the first Republican presidential debate, the candidates on stage were asked to raise their hands if they did not “believe” in evolution. As one of those who raised his hand, I think it would be helpful to discuss the issue in a bit more detail and with the seriousness it demands.

The premise behind the question seems to be that if one does not unhesitatingly assert belief in evolution, then one must necessarily believe that God created the world and everything in it in six 24-hour days. But limiting this question to a stark choice between evolution and creationism does a disservice to the complexity of the interaction between science, faith and reason.

The heart of the issue is that we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason. I believe wholeheartedly that there cannot be any contradiction between the two. The scientific method, based on reason, seeks to discover truths about the nature of the created order and how it operates, whereas faith deals with spiritual truths. The truths of science and faith are complementary: they deal with very different questions, but they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God.

People of faith should be rational, using the gift of reason that God has given us. At the same time, reason itself cannot answer every question. Faith seeks to purify reason so that we might be able to see more clearly, not less. Faith supplements the scientific method by providing an understanding of values, meaning and purpose. More than that, faith — not science — can help us understand the breadth of human suffering or the depth of human love. Faith and science should go together, not be driven apart.

The question of evolution goes to the heart of this issue. If belief in evolution means simply assenting to microevolution, small changes over time within a species, I am happy to say, as I have in the past, that I believe it to be true. If, on the other hand, it means assenting to an exclusively materialistic, deterministic vision of the world that holds no place for a guiding intelligence, then I reject it.

There is no one single theory of evolution, as proponents of punctuated equilibrium and classical Darwinism continue to feud today. Many questions raised by evolutionary theory — like whether man has a unique place in the world or is merely the chance product of random mutations — go beyond empirical science and are better addressed in the realm of philosophy or theology.

The most passionate advocates of evolutionary theory offer a vision of man as a kind of historical accident. That being the case, many believers — myself included — reject arguments for evolution that dismiss the possibility of divine causality.

Ultimately, on the question of the origins of the universe, I am happy to let the facts speak for themselves. There are aspects of evolutionary biology that reveal a great deal about the nature of the world, like the small changes that take place within a species. Yet I believe, as do many biologists and people of faith, that the process of creation — and indeed life today — is sustained by the hand of God in a manner known fully only to him. It does not strike me as anti-science or anti-reason to question the philosophical presuppositions behind theories offered by scientists who, in excluding the possibility of design or purpose, venture far beyond their realm of empirical science.

Biologists will have their debates about man’s origins, but people of faith can also bring a great deal to the table. For this reason, I oppose the exclusion of either faith or reason from the discussion. An attempt by either to seek a monopoly on these questions would be wrong-headed. As science continues to explore the details of man’s origin, faith can do its part as well. The fundamental question for me is how these theories affect our understanding of the human person.

The unique and special place of each and every person in creation is a fundamental truth that must be safeguarded. I am wary of any theory that seeks to undermine man’s essential dignity and unique and intended place in the cosmos. I firmly believe that each human person, regardless of circumstance, was willed into being and made for a purpose.

While no stone should be left unturned in seeking to discover the nature of man’s origins, we can say with conviction that we know with certainty at least part of the outcome. Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.

Without hesitation, I am happy to raise my hand to that.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Kate's New and Hot (Extra)

Extra credit...and more new species...24 this time!


So, there was a veritable treasure trove of new species discovered recently in Suriname! The coolest of which was a florescent purple and black frog (atelopus), and 12 different species of dung beetles (Darwin would be tickled pink). Two dozen new species were discovered in all in Eastern Suriname, a South American country. The exploratory expedition was funded by two Surinamese mining companies. Eighty percent of Suriname is covered by rain forest, and there are lots of valuable mineral deposits, including gold. As you can see...the article was quite brief...but you can find it here. It was from CNN.

Becca's Book Review now up here.

Also, there is an article in this week's Economist about the new creationist museum in Kentucky that we've been talking about throughout the quarter-- not sure if anyone posted about this specific article yet, but it's available here. And a photo:

Julie's Extra New and Hot

"What is the latest theory of why humans lost their body hair? Why are we the only hairless primate?"
by Mark Pagel

June 4, 2007, Scientific American

Among approximately 5000 mammals, humans are the only ones that are "effectively naked." There are three main theories for why humans lack body hair.

1. Aquatic ape hypothesis: Six to eight million years ago, humans may have led a partially aquatic lifestyle due to searching for food in shallow water. Fur is not a good insulator in water and thus humans lost the body hair and evolved higher levels of body fat. At this moment, there is no paleontological evidence backing the theory.

2. When humans began to live in the hot climate of the savannah, body hair would lead to overheating. In order to adapt to this climate, humans evolved to no longer have the body hair. While this adaptation is great during the day, during the cool night, humans would have lost body heat.

3. The newest of the theories suggest that humans lost the fur in order to reduce the number of parasites, such as ticks, lice, and biting flies. Fur is a perfect home for these parasites that carry diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness, West Nile, and Lyme disease. Since humans had the ability to construct shelter and make clothing, losing the fur would not have been deterimental.

Pagel and his colleague developed the last theory. However, there is a contradiction in his argument. Pagel says that the temperature control theory is flawed because without the hair, humans would not have temperature protection to cold. In his own theory of parasite reduction, he states that cold is not an issue because humans had shelter and clothing.

The lack of body hair may have then been maintained by sexual selection. Clean skin may have indicated good health, and which may be why women are normally more attracted to men with less body hair and take the efforts to remove body hair.

Like with most biological questions, I would say that the answer to this question resides not just in one of these theories, but through a combination of all three (or more).

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Anne's Extra New and Hot

The Creationist Museum that I wrote about in one of my previous new and hot postings finally opened last week on May 29 in Pittsburg PA. Apparently on Opening day there were lines and lines of people from all over the country waiting to see the museum’s impressive 27 million dollar exhibits. Mark Looy, a spokesperson for the museum said that on opening day, the museum hosted over 4,000 people. In addition to the curious people in line to see the museum, there were also protesters who attended the “Rally for Reason”. An airplane also circled overhead streaming the banner, “Thou Shalt not Lie”.

This is yet another example of the conflict between creationists and evolutionists happening right now. I still find it almost unfathomable that people in our country actually believe the content of the museum. For example, one exhibit near the life size Noah’s Ark depicts the failures of man. The caption reads, "Before man's fall, all animals were vegetarians. In a very good creation, no animal would die, so there were no carnivores." Other exhibits show humans and dinosaurs coexisting.

People who attended the exhibit, both skeptics and creationists agree that the exhibits are impressive. One article I read in the Cincinnati Enquirer says, “The museum, with its roaring Utah raptor and impressive computer-generated images of what Noah's Ark might have looked like plying the waves of a Great Flood, has a polish and professionalism of exhibits that would make documentary-makers, many museums and theme parks drool.” In fact, the museum is very oriented towards children. It presents them with a fantasyland, and at the same time frames all their information as the scientific mainstream.

All of this corresponds directly to the “fall of civilization” that Sam Harris warns about in his “Letter to a Christian Nation”. All of the impressionable children that visit the museum may leave with skewed perceptions of the world. One professor, Lawrence Krauss who attended the opening said, "Watching the people, and going through it, it's really sad, because you get the impression that a person who didn't know any better would come out of that really thinking science supported something, and also that science sets out to deceive.” I agree with him, and the protesters. The ways that the museum sets up dioramas and “factual” exhibits that don’t correspond to the scientific view of the world is very disheartening. When the U.S. is already so far behind other developed nations in terms of its acceptance of evolution, this is exactly what we don’t need for progress. The interesting articles that I read in the New York Times and The Cincinnati Enquirer can be found here: