Daily Gnuz

Here’s a sampling of the fecal-storms that buffet us today:

It’s 6 months into Trump’s presidency. He’s already asking about pardons for his aides. …And his family members and … himself, according to a new report.
h/t Vox
Circling the wagons, …and the drain.

And

Protecting our children from climate change might take more than just cutting emissions
h/t Raw Story
The longer we wait, the bigger the bullet we must bite in the quest to bequeath a livable planet to our progeny.

Finally, this just about sums up the last six effing months of stupidity and cowardliness

Donald Trump’s six-month report card: A paralyzed, scandal-plagued presidency — and it could get worse
h/t Salon
Worse doesn’t begin to describe the plunge we are about to take. Into the shit canister we go.

Open Thread, enjoy one byte at a thyme
RUCerious @ TPZo

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, August 5th, 2015: What’s My Line/Lie?

A ThinkProgress thread from yesterday list the following eleven lies expected to be trotted out during tomorrow’s Republican 2016 Presidential Candidate debate:

“[Obamacare] has failed to accomplish its prime objective: Containing health care costs.”
(Piyush “Bobby” Jindal)

“We need a president who will finally act to secure the border after decades of failed leadership in Washington, D.C.” (Rick Perry)

“Planned Parenthood is possibly selling the body parts of the babies it has aborted.” (Ted Cruz)

“The satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years.”
(Cruz, Trump, Scott Walker)

“Our biggest threat [in this country] is radical Islamic terrorism.”
(Walker, Jindal)

“Obama’s plan should be called the Costly Power Plan because it will cost hard-working Americans jobs and raise their energy rates.” (Walker)

“[Common Core is] a scheme to drive education curriculum from Washington, D.C.” (Jindal, Cruz, Huckabee)

“This is not a good deal, but a recipe for disaster and the first fateful step toward a frenzied nuclear arms race in the Middle East.” (Ben Carson, Chris Christie)

“Instead of a safety net to cushion our occasional falls, they have built a spider web that traps people in perpetual dependence.”
(JE Bush, Carson)

“It’s sad to see the Democrats take a horrific crime and try to use it as an excuse, not to go after people with serious mental illness or people who are repeat felons or criminals, but instead try to use it as an excuse to take away Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens.” (Cruz, Perry)

“Instead of fighting over the minimum wage, why don’t we focus on solutions that help every American earn his or her maximum wage.”
(Huckabee, Bush, Christie)

I expect that there will be a whole lot more bullshit, dog-whistle, chest-beating, wink-wink lines from this gaggle. What other talking-point lines do YOU expect to hear from each of them?

This is our daily Open Thread–have fun!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, July 11th, 2015: The Planet Killers

Over the last few days, several related and intertwined articles are pulling together more and more evidence that Exxon-Mobil, BP, Chevron, other fossil-fuel giants, and the Koch Brothers, along with their front groups, have deliberately and willfully been funding a disinformation campaign denying global climate change reports that they have known about since the early 1980s.

From yesterday’s ThinkProgress thread written by Joe Romm, “Oil Company Exxon Knew About The Scientific Reality of Climate Change in 1981”:

“…despite a growing understanding of the scientific reality of climate change in the 1980s and 1990s, Exxon became one of the biggest funders of scientists and think tanks and others who do little but deny and cast doubt on the scientific understanding of human-caused global warming.
Over the years, fossil fuel company executives have funneled tens of millions of dollars into this disinformation campaign. The top funder was ExxonMobil for a long time. But the company was overtaken years ago by Koch Industries, run by billionaires Charles and David Koch, who spent more than $48.5 million from 1997 to 2010 to fund disinformation. From 2005 to 2008, the Kochs outspent Exxon-Mobil well over 2-to-1 in funding the climate denial machine.”

From Huffington Post’s July 8th article, “Internal Documents Show Fossil Fuel Industry Has Been Aware of Climate Change for Decades”, written by Elliott Negin:

“Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse created a stir recently when he speculated that fossil fuel companies may be violating federal racketeering law by colluding to defraud the public about the threat posed by carbon pollution.”

~~~

“Exxon Recognized Carbon Emissions Problem 34 Years Ago
The collected documents reveal the fossil fuel industry campaign has relied on a variety of deceptive practices, including creating phony grassroots groups, secretly funding purportedly independent scientists, and even forging letters from nonprofit advocacy groups to lobby members of Congress.

ExxonMobil’s duplicity is perhaps the most remarkable. Internal documents and public statements stretching back decades show that ExxonMobil’s corporate forerunners Exxon and Mobil, which merged in 1999, acknowledged the threat posed by global warming as far back as the early 1980s.”

~~~

In November 1988…Mobil President Richard F. Tucker cited the “greenhouse effect” in a list of serious environmental challenges during a speech at an American Institute of Chemical Engineers national conference.

“Our strategy must be to reduce pollution before it is ever generated — to prevent problems at the source,” he said. “That will involve working at the edge of scientific knowledge and developing new technology at every scale on the engineering spectrum. …Prevention on a global scale may even require a dramatic reduction in our dependence on fossil fuels — and a shift toward solar, hydrogen, and safe nuclear power. It may be possible — just possible — that the energy industry will transform itself so completely that observers will declare it a new industry.”

Fossil Fuel Companies Disregard Their Own Scientists

Tucker’s warning went unheeded even by his own company. A year later, in 1989, 50 U.S. corporations and trade groups created the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) to discredit climate science. Its founding members included API, British Petroleum (now BP), Chevron, Exxon, Shell, Texaco and … Mobil.

Until it disbanded in 2002, GCC conducted a multimillion-dollar lobbying and public relations campaign to undermine national and international efforts to address global warming. One of its fact sheets for legislators and journalists, for example, claimed “the role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood” and emphasized that “scientists differ” on the issue.”

From a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), titled “The Climate Deception Dossiers: Internal Fossil Fuel Industry Memos Reveal Decades of Corporate Disinformation” (also linked to within the HuffPost article):

“Containing 85 internal memos totaling more than 330 pages, the seven dossiers reveal a range of deceptive tactics deployed by the fossil fuel industry. These include forged letters to Congress, secret funding of a supposedly independent scientist, the creation of fake grassroots organizations, multiple efforts to deliberately manufacture uncertainty about climate science, and more.
The documents clearly show that:
– Fossil fuel companies have intentionally spread climate disinformation for decades.
– Fossil fuel company leaders knew that their products were harmful to people and the planet but still chose to actively deceive the public and deny this harm.
– The campaign of deception continues today.

The UCS report includes links to all of the memos, emails, and other documentation. While I haven’t had the chance to delve into it much, a quick glance at the titles of the seven “Deception Dossiers” includes “Deception Dossier #6: Deception by the American Legislative Exchange Council”.

Gee, whodathunk?

As Inspector Kemp [played by Kenneth Mars] said in Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein”, “A riot is an ungly thingk… undt, I tink, that it is chust about time ve had vun!”

This is our daily Open Thread–get your pitchforks and torches ready!

The Watering Hole, Saturday, June 27th, 2015: Il Papa, Don’t Preach

Recently, “Il Papa”, Pope Francis, has pissed off several (often overlapping) factions of conservative “Christian” politicians, pundits, and what I’ve decided to call “pulpiteers”, aka Evangelicals. Apparently the Pope is only “infallible” when his flock agrees with his pronouncements or actions. I find it deliciously ironic that the first Pope in, well, “god” knows how long, to actually emulate the teachings and actions of Jesus Christ according to their own bible makes all of these faux christians so suspicious, dismissive, and ultimately hypocritical. I can just imagine one of the conversations:

Derp 1: “Washing the feet of poor people and criminals? Who the hell does that?”
Derp 2: “Well, according to the Bible, Jesus Christ did. Oh, and Christ fed the poor, too – you heard that Frankie wants all of us Christians to do that, too, right?”
Derp 1: “I know, is he crazy?! C’mon, that do-goody stuff isn’t supposed to be taken literally!”
Derp 2: “No, of course not, not those “New Testament” Jesus-y parts, anyway; just the parts about dominating the earth and all its resources, and the parts about stoning homos and wimmen and your kids if they sass you.”
Derp 1: “Exactly, that’s my point, we have to put the fear of god into these $chmuck$, er, potential voters!”

After already dissing unbridled capitalism and corporate greed, among other things, in his 2013 missive “Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World”, last week Pope Francis issued his now-infamous encyclical focusing on man-made climate change, and his idea of the correct Christian, and, as he noted, human course of action necessary to combat it for the good of Planet Earth and all of her children.

While some Catholic and other Christian groups agreed with Pope Francis and are willing to preach his ‘gospel’ to their flocks, other self-proclaimed “Christians” pretty much think that either Pope Francis is wrong, or that he should mind his own goddam beeswax. In particular, the many Catholics (or whatever “Christian” flavor) among the numerous Republican 2016 Presidential hopefuls would prefer that the Pope stay quiet. From the ThinkProgress article:

“At a town hall event in New Hampshire…[Jeb] Bush said that religion “ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”

 

“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home,” Bush said, “but I don’t get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”

No, Jeb, you certainly don’t get your economic policy from your pope, otherwise you’d actually have to DO something to help the poor. And it doesn’t seem to be working out when it comes to “making [you] better as people”, unless somehow by “better” you mean “more hateful.”

However, you and your ilk seem perfectly happy to get your SOCIAL policy, in particular regarding women’s rights, abortion, and LGBT rights, from your pope and your bible.  And you definitely LOVE it when your flavor of religion ends up crafting legal policy for the entire country, you fuckwad.

The article goes on to say that:

“Bush’s views on climate change and religion have, at times, been contradictory. In May, the presidential candidate and brother of George W. Bush said that the science surrounding climate change was “convoluted.”

“For the people to say the science is decided on this is really arrogant, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it, even.”

Once again, NO, Jeb, it’s NOT “intellectual arrogance” when the vast majority of scientists who have studied all of the data have come to the inevitable conclusion that global climate change is real, it’s mostly man-made, and it’s going to make the lives of your – and everybody else’s – grandchildren and greatgrandchildren a miserable hell.

And, of course, Rick Santorum had to get his twisted views out there:

““The Church has gotten it wrong a few times on science,” Santorum told radio host Dom Giordano. “We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists, and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality.”

WHAT the huh? Morality? Wait, he’s got more:

“I’m saying, what should the pope use his moral authority for?” Santorum asked. “I think there are more pressing problems confronting the earth than climate change.”

Are you fucking kidding, Rantorum? Oh, hold on for the finish:

“When we get involved with controversial and scientific theories, I think the Church is not as forceful and not as credible,” Santorum continued. “I’ve said this to the Catholic bishops many times — when they get involved in agriculture policy, or things like that, that are really outside of the scope of what the Church’s main message is, that we’re better off sticking to the things that are really the core teachings of the Church as opposed to getting involved in every other kind of issue that happens to be popular at the time.”

Okay, for Jeb and Sick Rantorum and every other Catholic and self-proclaimed Christian: If you are true to your supposed faith, then every official utterance of Pope Francis or any other Pope is, according to YOUR dogma, the infallible transmission of the Word of your God. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, the Pope is supposed to be the unquestionable representative of your Trinity. And if you and your science-denying conservative cohorts DON’T think that global climate change is the MOST pressing problem confronting the Earth, then you don’t deserve to even be aspiring to the Presidency of these United States. Just sit down and shut up.

Anyhoo…NOW Pope Francis has done something to ruffle the feathers, to say the least, of Israel and her supporters: According to Foreign Policy Magazine:

“On Friday [June 26], the Vatican signed a comprehensive treaty with Palestinian authorities, formalizing a basic agreement between the Catholic Church and the PLO back in 2000. In essence, it is a formal declaration of the Holy See’s support for the creation of a Palestinian state and the peace process with Israel. “[I]t is my hope that the present agreement may, in some way, be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties,” wrote Vatican foreign minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher.”

 

“The news is not going over well in Tel Aviv. “This hasty step damages the prospects for advancing a peace agreement, and harms the international effort to convince the Palestinian Authority to return to direct negotiations with Israel,” said Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.”

 

“[G]iven its sordid history of anti-Semitism, book-burnings, forced conversions and Inquisitions, the Catholic Church should think a hundred times over before daring to step on Israel’s toes,” wrote Michael Freund, former deputy communications director to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the Jerusalem Post on May 18. “If anything, the pope should be down on his knees pleading for forgiveness from the Jewish people and atonement from the Creator for what the Vatican has wrought over the centuries.”

I’m really starting to enjoy this new Pope Francis reality show (especially as a former Catholic) – it beats the hell out of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice Asshole” or “19 and Groping.”  Heh.

This is our daily Open Thread–go ahead and talk about things!

The Watering Hole, Tuesday January 27, 2015 – Environmental News and Food Polictics

Here’s something to chew on (pun intended). The conservative God made the earth in 7 days, and it is only about 8,000 years old, and Noah saved every creature one rainy morning (wonder how long that took?). Then there is the liberal version of God , so expansive in concept, taking no particular form, and creative as all get out, revealing mysteries to us every day if we wish to discover them. Take your mind off the kindergarten God and marvel upon this creation for a few moments.

                                                               J1407b

The Watering Hole, Saturday, January 24th, 2015: “I Like Ike”

Two score, fourteen years and one week ago, on January 17th, 1961, President Dwight David Eisenhower gave his farewell address to the nation. Although made famous by Ike’s coinage of the term “military-industrial complex”, his speech also contains commentary that, IMHO, is just as relevant today about other issues, and helps to demonstrate just how far today’s Republicans have strayed from reason and responsibility. The over-religious tone of several of Ike’s comments is off-putting for many of us, but those sections reflect how Republicans have twisted the ‘in god we trust’ idea into the unrecognizable form we see today. While lengthy, here is the entire speech:

“My Fellow Americans:

Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.

This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.

Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.

Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.

My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.

In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.II

We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.III

Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology-global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle-with liberty at stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small,there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research-these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we which to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs-balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage-balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between action of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.

The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.IV

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.

Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peace time, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United State corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system-ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.V

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society’s future, we-you and I, and our government-must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.

Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose difference, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war-as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years-I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

So-in this my last good night to you as your President-I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find somethings worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.

You and I-my fellow citizens-need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation’s great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America’s prayerful and continuing inspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”

This is today’s Open Thread. Have at it!

The Watering Hole; Friday September 12 2014; Carson v. Dawkins

Yesterday I posted here a link to statements by Dr. Ben Carson in which he pointed out that evolution is a myth because “God Can Create Anything At Any Point In Time.” Carson is a former neurosurgeon who has emerged today as a Wingnuttistanian Republican, a potential presidential candidate. Carson’s religious philosophy represents the dream of the religious right because of his pronouncements that it is human arrogance which allows some to believe that they are so smart that if they can’t explain how God did something, then it didn’t happen, which of course means that they’re God. You don’t need a God if you consider yourself capable of explaining everything. Carson also states unequivocally that when it comes to the earth’s age, “no one has the knowledge. He further maintains that “carbon dating and all of these things really don’t mean anything to a God who has the ability to create anything at any point in time.” It’s also Carson’s thesis that the “complexity of the human brain” essentially disproves evolutionary theory because when “Somebody says that came from a slime pit full of promiscuous biochemicals? I don’t think so.”

“Promiscuous biochemicals”? Really?

Such grossly unscientific views are, these days, not at all uncommon, particularly amongst those who belong to — who essentially have come to define — the religious right in the United States. As a political movement, they are also all too often left unchallenged when on full display in public forum, a reality many of their opponents have long felt to be an unfortunate trend given that virtually all religion-based theses of origin are so easily dismissed by scientific fact. In that vein, I present herein a series of quotes on the matter by one Richard Dawkins, the well known English ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and writer. These are quotes that I somehow managed to collect/accumulate over the last decade or two, and though I didn’t record specific dates or source attributions, they are, each and all, Dawkins’ verbal refutations of such nonsensical mythology as spoken by Ben Carson (and many many others), as cited above.

Richard Dawkins:

“People brought up to believe in faith and private revelation cannot be persuaded by evidence to change their minds. No wonder religious zealots throughout history have resorted to torture and execution, to crusades and jihads, to holy wars and purges and pogroms, to the Inquisition and the burning of witches.”

“For a long time it seemed clear to just about everybody that the beauty and elegance of the world seemed to be prima facie evidence for a divine creator. But the philosopher David Hume already realized three centuries ago that this was a bad argument. It leads to an infinite regression. You can’t statistically explain improbable things like living creatures by saying that they must have been designed because you’re still left to explain the designer, who must be, if anything, an even more statistically improbable and elegant thing. Design can never be an ultimate explanation for anything. It can only be a proximate explanation. A plane or a car is explained by a designer but that’s because the designer himself, the engineer, is explained by natural selection.”

“There is just no evidence for the existence of God. Evolution by natural selection is a process that works up from simple beginnings, and simple beginnings are easy to explain. The engineer or any other living thing is difficult to explain but it is explicable by evolution by natural selection. So the relevance of evolutionary biology to atheism is that evolutionary biology gives us the only known mechanism whereby the illusion of design, or apparent design, could ever come into the universe anywhere.”

“A delusion is something that people believe in despite a total lack of evidence. Religion is scarcely distinguishable from childhood delusions like the “imaginary friend” and the bogeyman under the bed. Unfortunately, the God delusion possesses adults, and not just a minority of unfortunates in an asylum. The word ‘delusion’ also carries negative connotations, and religion has plenty of those.”

“The beauty of Darwinian evolution is that it explains the very improbable, by gradual degrees. It starts from primeval simplicity (relatively easy to understand), and works up, by plausibly small steps, to complex entities whose genesis, by any non-gradual process, would be too improbable for serious contemplation. Design is a real alternative, but only if the designer is himself the product of an escalatory process such as evolution by natural selection, either on this planet or elsewhere. There may be alien life forms so advanced that we would worship them as gods. But they too must ultimately be explained by gradual escalation. Gods that exist ‘ab initio’ are ruled out by the Argument from Improbability, even more surely than are spontaneously erupting eyes or elbow joints.”

“Most scientists use the term God in the way that Einstein did, as an expression of reverence for the deep mysteries of the universe, a sentiment I share.” 

“Within 50 million years, it’s highly unlikely humans will still be around and it is sad to think of the loss of all that knowledge and music.”

“‘Religious’ physicists usually turn out to be so only in the Einsteinian sense: they are atheists of a poetic disposition. So am I. But, given the widespread yearning for that great misunderstanding, deliberately to confuse Einsteinian pantheism with supernatural religion is an act of intellectual high treason.

“The first cause cannot have been an intelligence – let alone an intelligence that answers prayers and enjoys being worshipped. Intelligent, creative, complex, statistically improbable things come late into the universe, as the product of evolution or some other process of gradual escalation from simple beginnings. They come late into the universe and therefore cannot be responsible for designing it.”

“Even before Darwin’s time, the illogicality was glaring: how could it ever have been a good idea to postulate, in explanation for the existence of improbable things, a designer who would have to be even more improbable? The entire argument is a logical non-starter, as David Hume realized before Darwin was born.”

“Natural selection is so stunningly powerful and elegant, it not only explains the whole of life, it raises our consciousness and boosts our confidence in science’s future ability to explain everything else. Natural selection is not just an alternative to chance. It is the only ultimate alternative ever suggested. … Natural selection is an anti-chance process, which gradually builds up complexity, step by tiny step.”

“[E]volution is a predictive science. If you pick any hitherto unstudied species and subject it to minute scrutiny, any evolutionist will confidently predict that each individual will be observed to do everything in its power, in the particular way of the species – plant, herbivore, carnivore, nectivore or whatever it is – to survive and propagate the DNA that rides inside it.”

“We explain our existence by a combination of the anthropic principle and Darwin’s principle of natural selection. That combination provides a complete and deeply satisfying explanation for everything that we see and know. Not only is the god hypothesis unnecessary. It is spectacularly unparsimonious. Not only do we need no God to explain the universe and life. God stands out in the universe as the most glaring of all superfluous sore thumbs. We cannot, of course, disprove God, just as we can’t disprove Thor, fairies, leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But, like those other fantasies that we can’t disprove, we can say that God is very very improbable.”

Not much else I can add save for perhaps a single word:

Amen.

OPEN THREAD