Gravity Applies

People like to talk about the power of believing. Mind over matter. Their faith in whatnot. Alternative medicine. Woo-woo of every brand.

As the news of Trump’s coronavirus infection this morning conveys, there are immutables in this world, beyond the reach of human narrative.

[Read more…]

Evidence-Free Zone: Nonsense Claims about Superiority of US Coronavirus Response

The following image shows per-capita coronavirus case counts for the US, Canada and Mexico. These per-capita rates are proportional to population size. This image was obtained from the Weather Channel mapping utility on September 27, 2020.

Let’s juxtapose that map against a few claims over the past month by Trump (here and here):

We’ve done a great job in Covid but we don’t get the credit. (August 31)

We’ve possibly done the best job.” (September 10)

[Read more…]

Working Definition of Faith-Based Claims, for Religion, Politics, and Life

Working Definition

Faith-based claims are more frequent and pervasive than most people think. Most people probably connect this phrase with religion, but I believe this is too limiting. Faith-based thinking is a method of thought, an algorithm for truth claims, and humans apply this algorithm well beyond the fence-line of religion. As a prelude to subsequent posts on a few topics, I’m going to propose a working definition for faith-based claims. Working definitions should be simple, and I propose the following two characteristics:

  1. Faith-based claims are grounded in belief without proof and/or sufficient evidence.
  2. Faith-based claims are not open to revision based on contrary evidence.

To qualify, a truth claim or assertion must contain both aspects. Hypotheses in science satisfy Condition 1, because they are guesses ahead of conclusive evidence; but they are tentative and discarded if they fail to survive experimental testing; thus they do not satisfy Condition 2. Much of of our working knowledge in life functions in a similar way. We may or may not know much about the evidence behind a lot of what we are taught or learn. There is nothing wrong with that. But if those views are held dogmatically for any reason, and we are closed to revision, they function as faith-based claims about the world. [Read more…]

Shahadah, Revised & Updated for Accuracy

There is no god but Physics,

and Mathematics is her messenger.

Jericho Brisance Re-Opened

Greetings to those who may still be subscribed to Jericho.

After three years of dormancy, I’ve decided to reopen and re-brand a bit. In the past, Jericho was largely focused on religion: Christianity, deconversion, atheism, and historical studies related thereto. Moving forward, Jericho will serve as a broader platform, featuring content divided into a few departments:

[Read more…]

Thanks on this Darwin Day

Darwin Day 2016

Happy Darwin Day! A chance for all to remember intellectual courage and scientific brilliance. For me, a chance to remember how evolutionary biology was used to treat Paisley and retrieve her from oblivion, 5 years ago this week. Paisley is perfect today.  Thanks to all the docs, thanks to all the nurses, and thanks to Charles.

062314_1716_DissonanceD1.jpg

[Read more on Paisley’s remarkable story]

 

Quote – Neil deGrasse Tyson

Every great scientific truth goes through three phases: first, people deny it. Second, they say it conflicts with the Bible. Third, they say they’ve known it all along.

~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

Marco’s Daddy and the Beginning of Life on Earth

Two Fingers ManHow can my great-great grandfather, Marco, help clarify how we view the beginning of life and the universe? Well, interesting question. Though it will take us circuitously through a barking-mad courtroom, a mock trial, and some rather startling suggestions regarding my own ancestry, the final picture should be crystal clear.

But first things first: a little background. There are two questions that demand (!) an answer.

Just Two Simple Questions

I have friends who are creationists, as indeed I myself once was. We’ve been dialoguing quite a lot since the Ham-on-Nye debate not long ago. So much so, that I have had to put aside some previously planned blog projects and such, and I’ve been spending my time fielding science sorts of questions instead. Or at the very least, I’ve been trying to. [Read more…]

YouTube – Excellent/Short Analysis of Ken Ham’s False “Observational vs Historical Science” Dichotomy

Potholer always does a superb job:

No Fault

How can one say it to friends?

It isn’t our fault.

It isn’t our fault if the people who raised us, and the people who raised them, were given bad information by other well-meaning but misled people. People like Ken Ham and Kent Hovind.

Or that you simply could not check out the legitimacy of information sources back then, at least not the way you can now.

In looking at Ken Ham, [Read more…]

Just Nailing Ham’s Coffin

I find myself still flush and aglow from the resounding victory of Nye over Ham last night. But I did muse that another nail in the coffin of Ham’s literalist view would make for happy fodder. That this find was made in Israel makes for palpable irony. The world can’t have begun 6,000 years ago if we have the remains of a 10,000 year old house.

6-YOLI SHWARTZ..jpg

Infographic: The Biologos Forum on Earth Age

The Biologos Forum is a Christian website studded with a host of legitimate scientists and theologians who tackle issues of origins. I found them very helpful when I was trying to figure out questions of biological evolution, the age of the earth, etc. Having had such protracted FB discussions yesterday surrounding the Bill Nye vs Ken Ham debate, I think they are a very good resource for other Christians grappling with questions like the Old Earth, etc. Bill Nye checks out in terms of factuality, by the way, and that’s an understatement. Ken Ham, I am sorry to say, had no real answers for the type of information that Bill presented, nor indeed for the information summarized in this infographic.

To my friends who hustle off to Ham’s Answers in Genesis, I’d like to suggest that you take a two-pronged approach to any science related conundrums. Sure check AIG, but also check out Biologos. Both are Christian sites for those who worry about that, but AIG presents viewpoints from minority-position Christian scientists, while Biologos gives you the mainstream-position Christian scientists.

Biologos Infographic on Earth Age

The Day the Earth Stood Still: Geocentrism Resurrection

There are days when I think about shuttering Jericho and giving up the blogosphere. I ask myself, Matt, why do this any longer? The purpose of this blog was originally to provide friends and family with an explanation for my own change in perspective on faith matters, and it was also meant to provide resources for other inquirers. Jericho has probably done as much as it will do for the former, and may or may not be of use for the latter. So, I think that perhaps I could – or should – walk on.

And then it happens again. PURPOSE crosses my threshold, in the form of awe-striking nonsense that deserves debunking. And in the process of debunking this bit of nonsense, we will find a useful object lesson regarding Creationism too, followed by some proposed guidelines for better navigation of the science battlefield.

But I get ahead of myself… Watch in wonder, for the answers are coming in Spring 2014…

~

That’s right: Geocentrism, with a capital “G”, is back. Yes, that’s correct, we’re talking about the proposition [Read more…]

Humor: The Onion on the “Intelligent Falling” Controversy

The guys at the Onion are so thorough in their lampoons, I just had to share:

http://www.theonion.com/articles/evangelical-scientists-refute-gravity-with-new-int,1778/#

The controversy:

Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held “theory of gravity” is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

The credentials:

…Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

The failure of secular science:

… there are many phenomena that cannot be explained by secular gravity alone, including such mysteries as how angels fly, how Jesus ascended into Heaven, and how Satan fell when cast out of Paradise.

Teaching the controversy:

They insist they are not asking that the theory of gravity be banned from schools, but only that students be offered both sides of the issue “so they can make an informed decision.”

A must read, it just keeps going, and going, and going… 🙂

From the Inbox: Dinosaur Blood and Creationist Contentions

Oh, the Drama

Tyrannosaurus rex, Palais de la Découverte, Paris

Tyrannosaurus rex, Palais de la Découverte, Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post has turned out to be somewhat meaty, and it is permeated with a fascination real-life stage drama – dinosaurs, Jurassic Park, a good YouTube video, all intertwined with religious controversy and persecution, and wrapped up at the end with some lessons-learned and a challenge to My Fellow Christians. I hope the reader will enjoy the story as much as I have.

For my Christian readers, please do not miss the “My Fellow Christians” section at the end…

A New Type of Post

How it began… On a semi-frequent basis I now receive a range of emails from well-meaning friends on a range of subjects. I’m often sent links to science related articles. Sometimes I am sent queries about various biblical topics. I generally appreciate any information-oriented feedback. I try to take each point raised quite seriously.

After doing this several times, I’ve decided such content would make for good blog posts. I’ll post such information from time to time, always omitting the sender’s name, any personal comments, and in a generally sanitized form. I can see no reason that such information and time investment be limited in distribution to the original sender. The more information to the more people, the better. That said, here we go.

Dino Blood

A friend recently sent an email with a comment regarding dinosaur fossil finds that intrigued me. It essentially said the following: [Read more…]

I appreciate nothing, and a little better than I used to.

eSkeptic: Levels of Nothing 

Stimulating piece, perhaps a little slow to start, but it has a nice second half and finish.

cas d'intérêt

Reflections of a Francophile

Two Wheels Across Texas

My Quest to ride through all 254 Texas Counties

The Curious Atheist

Freely Seeking Truth After Religion

Class Warfare Blog

I don’t want to start a class war; it started a long time ago and, unfortunately, we are losing.

Secular Wings

My freedom from spiritual abuse happened when I walked away from the abusers. My healing and recovery from the complex trauma of spiritual abusers, spiritually abusive faith and toxic religion happened while I was still a Christian and continues to this day. My deconversion came later after many many years of studying the Bible, Christian apologetics, cults and spiritual abuse. When I realized that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, the only honest thing I could do was to stop calling myself a Christian. What I write here, may be very different from what I’ve written in the past. It might also be repeats of the past themes. ~ Zoe

Variant Readings

Thoughts on History, Religion, Archaeology, Papyrology, etc. by Brent Nongbri

Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain