Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tracking a lie through its various plagiarized sources

There is an interesting phenomena over at PZ Myers' blog that has to do with some of the people who have been posting Catholic arguments against anything PZ writes about religion. It was especially intense right after PZ threatened to desecrate a cracker. PZ's regulars call them "godbots," they are people who post huge chunks of plagiarized material, make wild and unsupported assertions, many obviously false, and they cannot comprehend or bother with explanations about how they're wrong. For example, someone calling themselves "cj" wrote a comment screed begining with "TO THE MYERS-IAN ATHEISTS" in which he made such outrageous claims as:

How many times need I remind you folks that Science itself was the result of CATHOLICS in the first place! It's interesting to note that the first scientists were all monks, they were all clerics!

Someone obviously lied to cj about "the first scientists" if he believes that. The first scientists that I can name go back to pre-Christian Greece. There also had to be a few "scientists" in ancient Egypt too else they couldn't have built those pyramids, but I couldn't give you their names. Seeing that the bulk of cj's post was a huge list of, supposedly, Catholic scientists and that cj obviously did not compile the list himself I decided to find it on the net. I plugged one of the list's entries into Google and found this site: "SCIENCE, THEOLOGY, AND CHRISTIANITY/CATHOLIC PHILOSOPHY." And there was the exact same list of Catholic scientists. It was copied and pasted, obviously, and with no credit to the original source.

But this wasn't the guy who lied to cj about Catholics being the first scientists, this guy only said:

... scientists who through the ages have been practising members of the Catholic Church and at the same time outstanding in Science. These men not only found no conflict between science and religion, but became more firm in their faith as they delved deeper into science.

While this statement isn't exactly on target because he can't honestly say that every "Catholic" scientist on that list never came into conflict with "religion" for, ironically, Galileo and a few others were on the list. They did come up against a conflict between "religion" (or at least the church) and science.

Seeing, however, this wasn't the source of the primary lie I next plugged cj's phrase "the first scientists were all monks, they were all clerics" into Google and found this source: A Monitor article published on March 03, 2007, called "Vatican astronomer blends faith, science," by Chelsea Conaboy.

Also, with a bit of modification in my search, this blog post came up: "P. Z. Myers Must Be Fired" by Jimmy Akin which has a comment by a someone calling themselves "Cracker Jack" that repeats cj's claims in more detail saying:

How many times need I remind you folks that such science, and even Science itself, was the result of Catholic scientists in the first place! So, yes, there was "assistance from the imaginary"; that is, it was the Catholic Faith of the first Scientists which were Catholic monks, clerics, and laity, that drove them to Science in the first place and inspired them to discovery and seek out the very workings of creation of God!

The first site is the source for the lie that cj believes as well as the source of cj's plagiarism. I am now informed that "Cracker Jack" is cj. The basic idea is far older however and it could probably, if given enough time, be tracked back farther to other sources. Eventually its degenerate evolution could be tracked.

The source article, "Vatican astronomer blends faith, science," is about Brother Guy Consolmagno, a Vatican astronomer. Consolmagno himself made the same wild and seemingly false assertion I quoted from cj:

"It's interesting to note that those people, the first scientists, were all monks, they were all clerics," he said. "And their sense that the universe makes sense came from, first of all, their belief that God created the universe in a logical way."

That's the first "lie," but, unlike cj, Consolmagno gave it a tiny bit of justification and the term "first scientist" should really be qualified as the "first methodologically experimental scientists to arise in Europe since perhaps the fall into the dark ages and the burning of the library at Alexandria." Of course, Consolmagno doesn't say that. The term "those people" in the above quote was introduced and qualified with only:

"But hundreds of years ago, the basic laws of science had not yet been discovered."

Those people, the "first scientists" in Consolmagno's mind, are the ones who discovered the "basic laws of science" hundreds of years ago (not thousands of years ago?). What he seems to mean by "the basic laws of science" is really just a rapid addition of some very limited science about the time of the Renaissance. cj left that tiny bit off and there was no qualification to his claim that the first scientists were Catholics.

Consolmagno is still wrong in my view, but it now looks more like cj's lie started with a "mistake" in the way things were worded rather than an out right lie. Perhaps Consolmagno engineered his statement to be misunderstood by those who know little of history. I'm not going to argue with Consolmagno's point until I get some examples of what he means by "basic laws" and "first scientists." Until then it's too vague to pin down.

However the first part of the lie that many of us are victims of may have started when we were taught the history of science in high school. The history we were mostly given was a Greek and European history that ignored the contributions of other cultures. Science seen through Western eyes. We learned about Galileo and Copernicus and they were apparently sincere Catholics. We learned about Newton who we found out later was an alchemist who studied the Bible like an alchemy text, looking for its secret meanings. What we did not learn much about was the Muslim contribution to science, India's contribution to science and math or about China's contribution to science.

Another reason so many so-called "first" scientists seemed to be Catholic a few hundred years ago is because Europe was Catholic in the same way Arabia was, and is, Islamic and India is Hindu. You could also get burned at the stake by the Roman Inquisition, like Giordano Bruno, for heresy. If you didn't claim belief in Catholic dogma, then you didn't talk about it.

Another factor that makes those days seem scientifically revolutionary is the fact that the work of scientists from before the fall of Rome were often burned and their knowledge was lost. In fact, this time period is often, pejoratively, called "the dark ages," an era of ignorance, superstition and social chaos. After the fall of Rome there was a long period in which good science couldn't be supported because the social infrastructure wasn't there. European civilization was intellectually and economically backward compared to the other cultures that rivaled it during those times. This made the advancement seem all the more rapid.

Another factor: Some scientists were monks, like Gregor Mendel and Thomas Bayes (a Presbyterian monk, not a Catholic), and they had the kind of institutional support that allowed them the time and resources to explore the natural world.

I'll have to dig a little deeper to find out exactly what Consolmagno thinks are the "basic laws of science" but I suspect that many of them will have sources in other, non-Christian, cultures.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Harass me Bill Donohue! Harass me or I'm gonna desecrate a cracker!

Harass me Bill Donohue! Harass me!

I'm gonna desecrate a cracker!!!

I will do vile things to this consecrated cracker unless you harass me now!

I want a thousand Christian email addresses to sell to spammers and if I don't get them the cracker crumbles -- violated, desecrated and flushed!

Are you listening Bill?

Bill!!! Where are you, ya chicken shit!

I couldn't find your email address, but I found this:

Don't give me this silent treatment, Bill. Harass me, just like you did to PZ Myers or I will desecrate this cracker!

Need I remind you, Bill, if anything happens to this consecrated cracker it's on your head -- it was because you refused to harass me and write your little press releases about me. I'll do worse to this cracker than PZ ever imagined if I don't see a press release at least as dishonest as this: "MYERS TO DESECRATE EUCHARIST AND KORAN," and this "MYERS STILL WANTS TO ABUSE EUCHARIST; SHOWS DEFERENCE TO ISLAM," but about me. And you better include a link to my email, just like you did on all the PZ Myers press releases, else how will your brainwashed drones know how to send me their email addresses.

Like this:
Contact cracker desecrater at:

Remember that Bill, if this cracker gets it, it was your fault and Jesus will blame you.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Want to see some of my art?

I put up a Hub site with some of my old art. It's called "Horror and Science Fiction Art from Norman Doering."

You'll see more art if you click the link.

More Art

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Did Bill Donohue answer Christopher Hitchens' Atheist Challenge?

I've been thinking about the PZ cracker abuse scandal and it occured to me that something said by Bill Donohue contained an answer to Christopher Hitchen's Atheist Challenge, and that challenge goes like this:

Here is my challenge. Let anyone name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.

No nonbeliever would ever say what Bill Donohue said:

It is hard to think of anything more vile than to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ.

And by "Body of Christ" Bill Donohue refers to a dry and tasteless cracker.

Is it a moral statement? When you call something vile or a hate crime you are making a moral statement. Would an atheist ever claim that abusing a cracker is the most vile thing he could think of? I don't think so.

Why don't Christians offer that as an example to prove Hitchens wrong?

When I take a look at those who actually try to answer Christopher Hitchens' Challenge they all fall into Hitchens' trap and try to make a moral argument that Hitchens would not consider insane and thus automatically make statements an atheist could make.

For example, College politico's "Christopher Hitchen's Atheist Challenge Answered" falls into the trap by saying:

How about: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"

The "endowed by their Creator" line is completely unnecessary, and would actually have been counter productive if it wasn't slipped in there to placate the Christians of that time who were in fact somewhat inclined, if they supported the British King, to see God justifying the divine right of kings to take away, arbitrarily, people's Life and Liberty and to constrain their pursuit of Happiness.

If we remove those religious words we get: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are are born with certain equal and unalienable Rights and among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." A statement which actually makes more sense than the original. However, it is not really a statement that captures the whole truth. The truth is more complicated. It is, as College politico notes, self evident that men are not born equal. We all have different levels of intellect and physical ability. I am not the mathematical equal of Stephen Hawking nor am I the physical equal of Mariusz Pudzianowski. However, those differences do not say anything about what rights I'm entitled to (if I'm a white male with land and money during the revolution).

College politico then makes a non-sequitur argument about looking at the difference between men and God to see that our differences are utterly superficial and claims that is the major logical linchpin of this argument. "With believe in a higher power comes the perspective necessary for each of us to see ourselves as neither intrinsically superior or inferior to one another." No, that is not a good argument because if there were a really smart God who could design this universe then also the differences between us and the animals we eat and keep on farms would be utterly superficial too. We're not going to give cows the same rights as men because of College politico's argument, are we? And if that were such an obvious, self-evident, argument, then why did the concept of the divine right of kings ever emerge in Christendom?

From there, College politico moves to utter bullshit arguments like the argument from blindness and incredulity:

... without a belief in a higher power it seems to me that it is impossible to justify any type of egalitarian society.

Just because College politico can't see the possibility only means he himself is blind to it. He is, at least aware, that he might only have blindness and incredulity going for him:

I just don't see any way for atheistic philosophy to logically refute the claims of the Nazis, Japanese empire, Eugenicists, or even Hunter's Civic Biology Book (from the scopes case).

Maybe I'm missing something... Perhaps someone can provide me with a sound logical justification for egalitarianism without the relying on belief in a higher power?

Yes, College politico, you are missing quite a lot. And all you have to do to find the secular motive is read the rest of the Declaration of Independence. Whether the secular argument can even be comprehended by him is another question because it was right there in front of his face when he took the quote from it because right after the quote comes this, a purely secular argument for independence:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

The argument after the fuzzy absolutes of "Life, Liberty and pursuit of happiness" have much more weight and meaning when considering the philosophy of government actually adopted by the United States. For one thing, it's obviously true that we do not govern the United States according to any absolute reading of those few lines in the Declaration of Independence. If you look at how we depart from the absolute you can see what it really has come to mean, what it meant to the men who used it to start a revolution and how incredibly secular it is.

If we take away a person's life or liberty because they commit a crime we are saying that your rights to that life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are conditional. You only get them if you play by the rules we can enforce. Thus lines like: "laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." To protect our safety and happiness we will remove the life and liberty of some criminals.

In the context of the revolution it meant only those liberties the revolutionaries felt that the English King wasn't giving them. It is against that "long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism" where we find the liberty they sought.

It's a philosophy about what government is for and its a very secular philosophy that an atheist can easily ascribe to. Government isn't here for church and king it's there for its citizens, it's "we the people."

Also interesting is this statement from College politico:
... these inequalities have been used throughout history to justify things from slavery to genocide to segregation.

College politico doesn't seem to realize that the man who wrote those words, Thomas Jefferson, was himself a slave owner, or that genocide (of some of the native American Indians) and segregation (of Blacks and of the sexes) are part of American history long after those words were accepted as our declaration of independence. And we still today do not live by them in any absolute sense. If you commit murder, we claim the right to execute you still. If you commit a felony, your liberty can be taken from you and you'll go to prison. If your pursuit of happiness includes use of certain drugs, you can have your liberty taken from you.

And what does it mean that the president who is trashing our constitution also happens to be an out spoken Christian? Why will you Christians not own up to what appears to be completely insane about your morality?

Friday, July 11, 2008

PZ's crackergate scandal

I'm getting a little worried about this whole cracker abuse threat. In an interview for the Minnesota Independent PZ promised he was still planning to do something with the cracker:

Myers: The response has done nothing but confirm it: I have to do something. I'm not going to just let this disappear. It's just so darned weird that they're demanding that I offer this respect to a symbol that means nothing to me. Something will be done. It won't be gross. It won't be totally tasteless, but yeah, I'll do something that shows this cracker has no power. This cracker is nothing.

And this is after getting a couple death threats, one threat that got a woman fired because her husband sent it.

PZ did succeed in getting a lot of people's attention, but desecrating the cracker now wouldn't add a damn thing to the point made by PZ in his first post. He didn't have to do it to get the reaction he should have expected doing it would get him. It was Bill Donohue who drove home PZ's point and Donohue and his emailing followers are too blind to see it: getting upset over a cracker is insane and some people are that insane. But also, getting angry and taking it out on a cracker is just as useless and crazy. Some of PZ's old allies are starting to turn against him on this issue. Unless PZ is going to do something funny or with some point to it, then there's no reason to abuse the cracker. Yet, if he doesn't, it will look like he was intimidated by all this.

Frankly, I would be intimidated. Death threats do that to me. By threatening violence they do indeed get a kind of respect -- the respect one gives a dangerous rattlesnakes one avoids stepping on, a respect that is only born of fear. On the other hand, once you've got that much attention it would be such a waste not to use it to make a strong point. But what point? Some ideas for dealing with the issue can be found on youTube:

This isn't over.

Saying that "PZ deliberately acted like an outrageous asshole," is a fair criticism, but he got himself a lot of attention (more than the rest of us can get - I wish my blog got read so much, don't you?) -- the question, the real test, is if he can do anything useful with that attention.

PZ has a chance to redeem himself if he does something smart with the crackers he gets (if any). And he doesn't really need to get any - he can buy unconsecrated crackers from any number of online suppliers and just say they're consecrated. Even if he does get crackers, how can he be sure they're consecrated?

He could challenge Christians to tell which crackers are consecrated and which aren't. He could do scientific tests on them -- which might involve burning them. He could do a comedy bit where the cracker talks like Mr. Bill: "Eat me! Eat me! I'm your savory Lard -- Oh nooo!!!"

I sure hope he doesn't merely stomp on a cracker -- that would be so pointless.

If you've been reading PZ's blog you already know that he has published some of the emails he has gotten. Those are the mind sets of people who are now paying attention. Most of the emailers seem to have been effectively lied to about the context of PZ's remarks. Any video should fill them in on the context, the student who took the cracker, the original post Bill Donohue objected to and how crazy it is to take a cheap cracker and because some priest mumbles some mumbo jumbo over it some people think it is more than it really is.

Several emails made reference to how some Muslims reacted to the Danish Cartoonists and stories of Korans being pissed on. For example, you'll find comments like this in PZ's collection of emails:

If he is generally against religion, I suggest that he show the courage of that position by publicly using a copy of the Koran to wipe his behind. If he plans to do so, please let me know so I can give prior notice to the Muslim communities in your State AND recommend to a mathematics instructor I know to apply to fill the sudden vacancy of Dr. Myers' position.


I seriously doubt that he would ask someone to get him a Koran from a mosque or a copy of the Torah from a synagogue in order to publicly desecrate them since, after all, they're only pieces of paper with ink on them. Asking for the Koran would probably bring him and the U of M physical harm. Asking for a Torah would bring a swift lawsuit from the ADL. Right now, all he's getting is a public scolding from the Catholic League and some nasty e-mails. Therefore, I hope the U of M sees this for what it is -- a serious offense against Catholics -- and takes appropriate action.

The way that some emailers aspired to persecution might be something worth addressing:

You are a monster. We need another Inquisition to root out idiots like you (and anyway, the Church only excommunicated heretics and witches, then handed them over to the state for punishment. We never executed them directly). How dare you insult the Lord God like that. Losers like you will suffer. I hope and pray that this will loose you your job and your career.

How does one meet a mind like that with any sympathy? The sympathy that Neil degrasse Tyson called for:

I don't think you do engage them, you look past them to those you can sympathize with, and just let them know what exists in their church.


PZ did it. A picture is up here.

My favorite PZ quote from The Great Desecration:

I think if I were truly evil, I would have to demand that all of my acolytes be celibate, but would turn a blind eye to any sexual depravities they might commit. If I wanted to be an evil hypocrite, I'd drape myself in expensive jeweled robes and live in an ornate palace while telling all my followers that poverty is a virtue. If I wanted to commit world-class evil, I'd undermine efforts at family planning by the poor, especially if I could simultaneously enable the spread of deadly diseases. And if I wanted to be so evil that I would commit a devastating crime against the whole of the human race, twisting the minds of children into ignorance and hatred, I would be promoting the indoctrination of religion in children's upbringing, and fomenting hatred against anyone who dared speak out in defiance.


Bill Donohue responded with a press release, MYERS DESECRATES THE EUCHARIST. It claims, among other things, that:

"A formal complaint against Myers has already been made. What he did--in both word and deed--constitutes a bias incident, as defined by the University of Minnesota. The policy says that 'Expressions of disrespectful bias, hate, harassment or hostility against an individual, group or their property because of the individual or group's actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion...can be forms of discrimination. Expressions vary, and can be in the form of language, words, signs, symbols, threats, or actions that could potentially cause alarm, anger, fear, or resentment in others...even when presented as a joke.'

"The University must now take action and apply the appropriate sanction. We are contacting the president, Board of Regents and the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office at the school, as well as Minnesota's governor and both houses of the state legislature; the Catholic community in Minnesota is also being contacted. Moreover, we are also contacting Muslim groups nationwide.

"It is important for Catholics to know that the University of Minnesota will not tolerate the deliberate destruction of the Eucharist by one of its faculty. Just as African Americans would not tolerate the burning of a cross, and Jews would not tolerate the display of swastikas, Catholics will not tolerate the desecration of the Eucharist."

Thing is, PZ included the "God Delusion," a symbol of his own beliefs, in the "great desecration." It might save his ass. What he did isn't a lone attack on Catholicism, but on holding anything sacred in an abstract sense. I don't know how much that will mean in the end.


No expulsion for UCF student who stole Eucharist wafer

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Death to the cracker infidels!

PZ is becoming the clown prince of atheism, remember when he got thrown out of Expelled? Well, now he has come to the attention of Catholic League president Bill Donohue.

The Catholic League is preparing a stake for me. They're going to go straight for the jugular and threaten my job — notice how they repeat that you can access my post from my faculty page, nicely avoiding the fact that the post they find so offensive is not hosted on any university server, and that they are urging everyone to harass the president of my university and the regents and the Minnesota legislature. Extortionists and witch hunters, that's all these scumbags are.

The Catholic League is getting all hot and bothered about PZ's threats of cracker abuse. Congratulations PZ! You're now as officially famous as D-list actress Kathy Griffin.

By the way, what the hell is the Catholic League? It seems to be made up of only one guy, Bill Donohue.

PZ, in his July 8 post, "It's a Frackin' Cracker," wrote that he wanted to desecrate the Eucharist when reporting on what happened at the University of Central Florida when a student walked out of Mass with the Host, holding it hostage for several days:

I'll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won't be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web.

It seems PZ's threat to use a Holy Jesus Body Wafer to wipe his ass has caused Billy boy to call down a fatwā (pronounced "Fat Whaaa?") on our esteemed atheist cult leader.

Apparently, if you take a cracker out of church and blindfold it and water-board it, it is sacrilege, but if you chew it up in an act of symbolic cannibalism, thus exposing it to stomach acids and mixing it into your feces and expelling it through your anus, it is not sacrilege.

How serious a threat is this? Well, it's either incredibly serious or else Bill Donohue suffers from a dangerous lack of imagination seeing as how he wrote:
It is hard to think of anything more vile than to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ.

Is it really that hard to think of anything more vile than to abuse a dry and tasteless cracker? How about pissing on the Koran? How about cartoons of that Islamic dude with the bomb in his head towel? How about what the Spanish Inquisition (Ha! I bet you weren't expecting that!) did to Graham Chapman and John Cleese?

How about rape, the holocaust, necropedophilia or flag burnin'? How about Dafur or Zimbabwe or California? How about necropedophilial rape and flag burnin' in California with the Spanish Inquisition?

That's how serious cracker abuse is. I know, you're thinking, "but it's a cracker. A processed wheat product." No it's not just a cracker, it just looks like a cracker, it's really the body of Christ that was completely reduced to its component molecular and atomic structures and made into a cracker during a magic priestly ritual. Christians then eat the Body of Christ and drink his blood, and that's why wine is called Jesus juice. Christians have this weird ritual cannibalism.

So, you can see why these Christian cannibals are very touchy about their crackers.

PZ found it easy to think of things far more vile than cracker abuse:
Hey, Bill! I can think of something more vile! How about intentionally desecrating the bodies of young altar boys who respect the position of trust held by Catholic priests? I think that is a lot more vile than mistreating a cracker. In fact, I can think of innumerable vile acts going on all around the world right now, and not all of them even involve Catholicism. It takes the moral vacuum of a purblind ideological bigot like Bill Donohue to think that goring his sacred cow is the worst thing in the world.

I'm not sure if they would be upset if I went to communion and took a wafer, pulled out a bowl of French Onion Freedom dip and dipped the cracker in it for flavor, but I expect rioting in the streets and the burning of embassies.

You'd think that if these crackers were so important to them, they'd keep them under tight security. No, pieces of their deity can be bought easily on the intertubes. You can buy his body and blood at, here, and elsewhere.

That means I hope to be seeing youTube videos of your blindfolded crackers soon.

I suspected that future toddler chopper Vox Day would have something to say about PZ's run-in with Bill the shrill Donohue, Vox just hates PZ for ignoring him all this time, and I was right. Vox has his post up at: "Social autism strikes again." Here's a taste of the irony:

The question of desecrating the Host aside, there's little question that there is very little, if anything, respectful, fair, or civil about PZ's nasty Internet morass.


... unlike PZ, I am not socially autistic, ...

Try hanging around in my social circles, Vox. You're worse than socially autistic, you're considered dangerously and violently psychotic.