Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Well that finally settles it.

The Catholic church has announced that the theory of evolution by natural selection is well founded and compatible with church dogma. That noise you heard? That was the entire evolutionary biology community heaving a collective sigh of relief.


Welcome to the 20th century. By the way, when the scientific community needs the opinion of a bunch of geriatric male virgins in skirts to figure out what's right, I'll be canceling my membership to AAAS. And then the Vatican claims that their guys (specifically Aquinas and Augustine) speculated about evolution before Darwin. Ah, revisionism. The great friend of the Vatican. Thanks for all you've done for us, guys.

Be well,


Not a miracle

It's always refreshing to hear someone who experienced a nearly averted tragedy to call it like it is. The co-pilot of Flight 1549, when asked whether the safe landing was a miracle, responded with some good old fashioned rationality.

"I wouldn't say that," Skiles said. "I would still say that it's just everybody did our jobs and we had good fortune, as well."

Well done. I wonder what would have happened if the crew had taken a moment to pray instead of doing their jobs calmly and efficiently?

Be well,


Thursday, February 5, 2009

And the wall came tumbling down.

Greetings. It's been a while. I find that when things are going well, I struggle to find the indignation to write with my usual fervor. Things have been going very well lately. The offspring is doing well, I still have a job, and my wife is as wonderful as ever. So, what, you might ask, could have happened to wake me from my lackadaisical torpor.

Three little words: Faith-Based Initiative.

I had really hoped that our new benevolent overlord would see fit to jettison this terrible establishment clause violation. Why I thought that is unclear since Obama indicated repeatedly during the campaign that he thought there was room for faith in the town square (whatever that might mean). Obama today announced a number of changes to the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, including a new name, The Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership. Whatever. I don't care what you call it. In it's present form, it's wrong.

Obama did announce that the new leadership in the office will look into rules regarding hiring practices of religious groups. The new leader of the Office is Josh Dubois. I can't say that I was terribly familiar with Josh before today, but one thing that concerns me is that he was a pastor at an evangelical church, more specifically a United Pentecostal church in the Assemblies of God. This particular denomination doesn’t strike me as the most inclusive group. They, of course, believe that the Old and New Testaments are the “infallible, authoritative rule of faith and conduct,” that life begins at conception, and that marriage can only be between one man and one woman. They don’t say so on the website, but I’m quite sure that “practicing” homosexuals are not welcome as members of their church. Those that want to make a different “choice” are always welcome, I’m sure.

So forgive me if I think asking Josh to oversee reformation of this Office is asking the fox to guard the henhouse.

So here’s what I think it would take to bring this Office in line with the principles established in the constitution. If a religious organization accepts public funds to perform it’s charity work, these restrictions (some of which were shredded during the Bush era) should apply:

Full disclosure - Just like every other non-profit in this country, the church’s books should be open to scrutiny and auditing.
Firewall - There should be a clear, bright distinction between funds used for charity work and those used for prosthelytizing.
Nondiscrimination - the arm of the religious organization that receives the funds must follow the same non-discriminatory hiring practices that any other government funded agency must. That means no discrimination on the basis of sex, color, creed, or sexual orientation.

Simple and easy. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how Obama is going to handle this. But if he thinks that he can continue forward with no changes Bush’s policy in this area, he’ll find out in 4 years that the freethinkers in this country vote too.

Mr Obama. Rebuild that wall.

Be Well,