Monday, 20 November 2017

Christians and Jews Unite to Defend Paedophilia

Rabbi Noson Shmuel Leiter, director of Help Rescue Our Children
Speaking in Birminham, ALabama in support of Roy Moore
New York rabbi lends support to Roy Moore at Birmingham rally | Southern Jewish Life Magazine.

Following close on American Christian fundamentalists discovering that their religion permits lying, sexually assaulting women, adultery, cheating, fraud and bullying when they discovered that Donald Trump represented all the values they stand for, they now seem to have realised what good and moral things paedophilia, sexual assault on and non-consensual sex with a minor are, with the Roy Moore affair.

Now we learn it's not just extremist Christians who have these conveniently flexible morals and an imaginary friend who approves of every abuse of power and antisocial, divisive and abusive policy you can think of when it suits your selfish ambitions. Some extremist Jews have the same flexibility it seems.

Evangelical Christian preachers seem to be vying for the best Bible-based apologia for Moor's alleged sexual abuse of young women including a fourteen year-old girl some years ago. It not only does not debar him from holding elected public office, but is makes him eminently suitable as a good Christian - apparently. They have just discovered that the Bible is full of child molestation and non-consensual sex (or 'rape' as we now call it) all done with the tacit approval of God or even on his orders. Why, even Jesus's own mother was a minor!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Evolving Creationists!

Old Order Amish, evolving - naturally
Why these Amish live longer and healthier: an internal ‘fountain of youth’ - Northwestern Now

Shocking news for creationists yesterday!

Fundamentalist Christian creationists have been caught evolving and breaking one of the sacred creationist dogmas - that all mutations are harmful and degenerative. This was discovered in a group of appropriately-named Old Order Amish from Indiana, USA.

Due to a mutation, they are living 10% longer compared to those members of the same Amish group without the mutation.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Two 'World Views'

Kingston University study reveals how food poisoning bacteria Campylobacter uses other organisms as Trojan horse to infect new hosts - News - Kingston University London

I heartily dislike the term world view. It's nothing more than an attempt to pretend that an opinion which isn't supported by the evidence is the equal of one that is. And that's a very convenient way to justify demanding the right to be taken seriously on any subject without bothering to learn anything about it.

A 'world view' that either eschews scientific evidence or actively rejects it is not an opinion based on an interpretation of the data; it's an opinion that ignores it.

But let's play this 'different world view' game that creationists play where they pretend they have looked at all the evidence and simply arrived at a different conclusion based on their 'world view' not the scientific 'world view' - which, so they would claim, is no more valid than their own!

A Victory for Human Decency in Australia

Australians celebrate victory over religious bigotry
Australians back gay marriage in non-binding vote - BBC News:

Great news from Australia!

In a non-binding 'advisory' postal vote, Australians have voted 61.6% in favour of legalising same-sex marriages on a 79.5% turnout. Unlike normal Australian voting where voting is compulsory, this referendum was voluntary, which makes this turnout even more remarkable.

On a regional basis, only 17 of the 150 electorates voted against the proposal "Should the marriage law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?" Australia's chief statistician, David Kalisch said, "This [turnout] is outstanding for a voluntary survey and well above other voluntary surveys conducted around the world. It shows how important this issue is to many Australians".

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Be Upstanding For Jesus

Paseka 'Mboro' Motsoeneng of the Incredible Happenings Ministry.
Photo credit: Sandile Ndlovu
Pastor demands footage of him reviving parishioner's erection be shown on TV | Metro News

A South African pastor is proclaiming a miraculous cure for impotence and demanding it be shown on Soweto television.

Pastor Paseka ‘Prophet Mboro’ Motsoeneng, of the Incredible Happenings Ministry in Katlehong, South Africa, will already be familiar to readers of this blog for his amazing powers (and amazing wealth). Only last July, on God's instructions, he went into Hell and killed Satan according to his announcement on his Facebook page (that was mysteriously taken down soon after it appeared - which had nothing to do with a very large number of complaints, obviously).

We can be sure this is true because Prophet Mboro is a Christian and it is forbidden for Christians to bear false witness, i.e., lie!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Religion Is Not Natural


The Camino de Santiago de Compostela
source: Wikipedia (CC-BY-SA 3.0)
Why do we believe in gods? Religious belief not linked to intuition or rational thinking, new research suggests

Are people born with the propensity to be religious, as some studies seem to have shown?

It is even claimed in some religious apologetic circles that somehow being religious is the natural state, either an evolved genetic predisposition, or, in fundamentalist creationist apologetics, that God intelligently designed us to be religious (obviously it couldn't have evolved, that would be heretical!).

Strangely, this god intelligently designed us to be religious but couldn't make us all have the 'one true religion'.

Of course, the bottom line is that somehow, atheism is unnatural, even perverse and definitely not something God intended.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

'Missing Link' in Abiogenesis Found!

Scientists find potential 'missing link' in chemistry that led to life on Earth

You know, sometimes I get carried away and fantasise about creationist frauds like Ham, Comfort and Hovind hearing the tune Aproaching Menace by Neil Richardson as they read yet another scientific paper showing how science is closing in on one of their sacred dogmas - that only God can create life.

But then I come back to reality and remember that they don't do science and evidence, so none of this makes any difference to them. They'll still claim it's impossible, knowing they can rely on their willing dupes not to check just in case.

Only three days ago I reported here on the work of a team from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA who are homing in on one of the pre-biotic precursors of one of the fundamental cell processes. Just a day later we had this paper published in Nature Chemistry showing how another fundamental process could similarly have arisen pre-biotically. The process is that of phosphorylation, i.e, adding a phosphate group to three key components of cells.

Human Kindness - In Bonobos!

Close primate cousins with whom we share 99 percent of our DNA, bonobos will help strangers even when there is no immediate payback, and without having to be asked first.
Photo credit: Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary.
Bonobos Help Strangers Without Being Asked | Duke Today

Bonobos and humans share some 99% of their genes so it's hardly surprising that we share some behavioural traits too.

As this news item from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA explains:

A passer-by drops something and you spring to pick it up. Or maybe you hold the door for someone behind you. Such acts of kindness to strangers were long thought to be unique to humans, but recent research on bonobos suggests our species is not as exceptional in this regard as we like to think.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Oh Creation! Now An Intermediate Short-Necked Giraffe!


Reconstruction of Decennatherium rex sp. nov.
A, skeletal reconstruction; B, life reconstruction of an adult female; C, life reconstruction of the head of an adult female.
Illustration by Oscar Sanisidro.
A new giraffid (Mammalia, Ruminantia, Pecora) from the late Miocene of Spain, and the evolution of the sivathere-samothere lineage

Another gap filled; another 'intermediate form' found!

So, do creationists give up with their disinformation, misrepresentation and downright lies? What do you think?

Of course not! It's just one more thing to misrepresent and lie about. A literal interpretation of the Bible says it shouldn't exist, so it doesn't exist! End of! FACT!

Anyway, back to the real world.

According to this report in the New York Times:

A near-perfect fossil unearthed close to Madrid appears to be an ancient European ancestor of giraffes, representing a new species in the family and one that had two sets of bony bumps on its head rather than the single set of modern giraffes.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Ancient Wisdom And Genetic Diversity

Neanderthal family group
Photo credit: Nikola Solic/Reuters/Newscom
Ancient genomes show social and reproductive behavior of early Upper Paleolithic foragers | Science

Two papers published a few days ago in the same edition of Science show that hunter-gatherer people, both modern human and Neanderthal, had evolved cultures which minimised the genetic risks inherent in inbreeding in the small bands of which these groups consisted.

Small groups consisting only of related extended families would have a very high probability of consanguinity and inherited recessive genes unless they had strategies for regularly introducing genetic material from other more distantly related groups.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Gene Duplication Gave Us Spiders

Common house spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum
The house spider genome reveals an ancient whole-genome duplication during arachnid evolution | BMC Biology | Full Text

For creationists still trying to get away with the absurd claim that mutations are always harmful and that no new information can arise in the genome because of the second law of thermodynamics, this is another of those bad news stories.

No! I'm not joking! They really do claim that! Creationists think nothing of claiming an observable thing can't happen, knowing that their willing dupes won't go and check. They'll no doubt continue to claim it even after this paper showing how the scorpions and arachnids have evidence of whole genome duplication in a common ancestor about 400 million years ago.

The Chemical Origin of Life


Accretion of SSU rRNA as illustrated by helices 7–10/es3 from species of increasing complexity. A four-way junction at the surface of the common core, formed by helices 7–10, has expanded by accretion. Accretion adds to the previous rRNA core, leaving insertion fingerprints. (A and B) Secondary (A) and 3D (B) structures are preserved upon the addition of new rRNA. (C) Superimposition of the 3D structures highlights how new rRNA accretes with preservation of ancestral rRNA. (D) A characteristic insertion fingerprint is shown in red and blue boxes. In all panels, the rRNA that approximates the common core is blue. An expansion observed in both archaea and eukaryotes is green. An expansion that is observed only in eukaryotes is gold. An additional expansion in higher eukaryotes (mammals) is red.*
History of the ribosome and the origin of translation

A team of scientist from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA believe they are close to solving one of the mysteries of how living systems first arose from chemical precursors. They believe they have identified a small section of the ribosome which is so fundamental that it is common to all living organisms, from the simplest single-celled organisms to the most complex multicellular plants and animals

In short, this looks to be the starting point for life and a structure that was present in LUCA and maybe before it.

Rather than the bottom up approach where scientists have attempted, with limited success so far, to reconstruct the fundamental units from which living systems could have arisen, the team took a top down approach by reverse engineering the cell organelle common to all living cells and therefore almost certainly present from the first moments, maybe even before something that could be called 'living' existed, the ribosome.

Ribosomes are composed of a tangle of RNA and proteins and are fundamental to living cells in that they only perform one task - they translate the code in DNA and construct proteins from amino acids. They differ from one species to another only in the 'ornamentation' present on their surface, and this gave the clue to the method of reverse engineering the team used.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Nasty Design; Nasty Designer?

Mosquito feeding
Credit: Mircea Costina / Alamy Stock Photo
Malaria parasite makes mosquitoes more likely to suck your blood | New Scientist

Continuing with the theme of exposing creationism's putative designer as a malevolent thug, full of evil intent and far from the benevolent, maximally good father figure god they purport to believe in, here is an an example from the mosquito-malaria 'design', published a few days ago in Biorxiv.

Abstract
Whether the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum can manipulate mosquito host choice in ways that enhance parasite transmission toward human is

Friday, 3 November 2017

Cultural Woolly Mammoths

A mammoth tusk on Wrangel Island.
Credit: Patrícia Pečnerová
Male mammoths more often fell into 'natural traps' and died, DNA evidence suggests -- ScienceDaily:

Elephants are well known for the cultural organisation in which a matriarchal group, led by a older female who acts as a repository for group knowledge such as where the water may be found during a drought, etc. This group consists of females with their young but males, when they reach a certain age, generally fend for themselves in smaller groups or as solitary individuals often associated with but not members of a matriarchal group.

This, of course, deprives males of the protection of the group and of the knowledge and wisdom of the matriarch.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

A New Species of Orangutan and More...

Orangutans in Sumatra's Batang Toru forest are now officially a new species:
Pongo tapanuliensis.

Credit: Maxime Aliaga/SOCP-Batang Toru Programme
Newly discovered orangutan species is also the most endangered : Nature News & Comment

Not only is there great news about a new species of orangutan but the article in Nature announcing it quite casually shows how different strands of science all confirm current scientific understanding of evolution.

Firstly, the newly discovered orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis).

Well, it's not exactly newly discovered so much as newly identified as a new species. It was first reported by western scientists about 50 years ago when they heard rumours of a population of orangutans living in a the Batang Toru forest in a remote part of the island of western Sumatra. However, it was not until anthropologist Erik Meijaard, that discovered the paper in the mid-1990s that scientists actually went looking for the population. They found the remains of a female, evidence of nests and a male killed by local people in 2013. From these, it was possible, using genetic evidence, to show not only that this was a new species, but how it relates to the other orangutans.

Animals Refute Creationism By Rational Thought

Cameron Buckner, assistant professor of philosophy at UH, says empirical evidence suggests a variety of animal species are able to make rational decisions, despite the lack of a human-like language.
Do Animals Think Rationally? - University of Houston

Do animals other than humans think rationally?

Cameron Buckner, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Houston, think some at least do and believes he has evidence to support that view. His article is published a few days ago Philosophy and Phenomenological Research sets out his reasoning.

Regrettably, it sits behind an expensive paywall but a News release by Jeannie Kever of Huston University explains his findings:

"These data suggest that not only do some animals have a subjective take on the suitability of the option they are evaluating for their goal, they possess a subjective, internal signal regarding their confidence in this take that can be deployed to select amongst different options," he [Cameron Buckner] wrote.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Chimps More Like Us Than We Thought

Co-operating chimpanzees
Credit: Christopher F Martin
Chimpanzees shown spontaneously ‘taking turns’ to solve number puzzle | University of Oxford

A new study by researchers from Oxford and Kyoto universities and Cincinnati Zoo has revealed a new level of co-operative behaviour not seen before in other than humans. The chimps were shown to be spontaneously taking turns co-cooperatively to complete a task, a form of behaviour believe to be basic to effective communication where timing cues are taken from one another.

As Dr Dora Biro, co-author of the study from Oxford’s Department of Zoology, said:

Coordinating behaviour is an essential component of many social situations and can enable groups of individuals jointly to solve problems. In communication, coordination often takes the form of turn-taking, where one individual takes cues from the other to decide on the timing of their own input. This can allow for the efficient exchange of information.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Zika - The Nasty Designer Plays it Sneaky!

Zika Virus Infects Developing Brain by First Infecting Cells Meant to Defend Against It

First, a little story:

God sat in Heaven gazing down at his creation that he loved and adored beyond measure and he noticed that things were not perfect. He notice all the war, famine, pestilence and hate.

He noticed that humans were finding cures for polio, smallpox, even malaria, and using antibiotics to cure infections that would have killed millions in earlier times. He noticed that very many children were growing up into strong, healthy adults when once they would have died in infancy.

He noticed though that there was still much suffering. He noticed the children born with physical and mental handicaps. He noticed the anguish of the parents of these children as they struggled to cope and make life bearable for these unfortunate children. He noticed too the deprivation suffered by the siblings of these children as their parents were forced to devote less time to them than they needed.

So he pondered on the problem and sat stroking his beard for many days, wondering what he could do about it. Why were things not as he would have wished them to be in his beloved creation? Had he not created it perfectly?

At last, a solution came into his mind.

So he improved antibiotic resistance in his bacteria and then he created the Zika virus. As a touch of brilliance, he created the Zika virus so it attacks and disables the cells that would have grown and developed into the victim's brain defences against pathogens.

"Let's see them cure that!", he thought. "Now, how's Ebola doing?"

Well, that's the creationist view.

Now let's look at the science.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Sticking It To Creationists With An Early Tree

World's oldest and most complex trees - News - Cardiff University

Another scientific paper which quite incidentally and without effort or intent, refutes a key creationist claim, was published yesterday.

It was nothing more sensational from a biology perspective than the discovery that the earliest trees were much more complex in the structure of their trunks and in their growth patterns than modern trees.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Thank You For Being Humankind

Thank you!

You just helped make a difference and improve the lives of Iraqi women victims of sexual abuse by helping them rebuild their lives and earn a living.

You did this by tolerating the adverts on my blog because, once in a while the odd pennies earned from adds tot up to over £60 and trigger a payout. And, as always, I donate this to OxfamGB. This year, the project I supported was Helping women survivors of sexual and gender based violence rebuild their lives and raise their voices.
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