Now I’m going to have nightmares

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Ken Ham, chief wackaloon at Answers in Genesis, was invited to speak…at a Pentagon prayer breakfast.

Just let that sink in.

There are people at the Pentagon who are in charge of planning where your sons and daughter and nephews and nieces and other beloved family members and friends will be sent to put their lives at risk. There are people there who can send missiles and bombers anywhere in the world. There are people there who control nuclear weapons.

And they think Ken Ham is a fine-and-dandy, clever feller.

It's almost enough to make me wish I could pray. It's not just Ham, either — it's that the people with the big guns have prayer breakfasts.

And then, somehow, he segues into babbling about the existence of life on other worlds. He doesn't think there is any. Look at the logic this kook uses:

The real world is the biblical world--a universe designed by God with the Earth at the spiritual focal point, not an evolutionary universe teeming with life. … Extraterrestrial life is an evolutionary concept; it does not comport with the biblical teachings of the uniqueness of the Earth and the distinct spiritual position of human beings.

Because the bible says we are the focus of the entire universe, there can't possibly be any competitors. Of course, this means that his god created this vast, empty, uninhabitable space for no reason other than that we'll have twinkly little stars in the sky at night…but hey, that's the crazy Christian deity, always doing irrational stuff and encouraging his followers to be equally nuts.

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Pastor Gus Booth is making news again, this time, it’s national. ABC news is reporting that Gus Booth stated from his pulplit: “If you are a Christian, you cannot support a candidate like Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton for president.... Read More

241 Comments

No competitors? Isn’t that what Jehovah told the Hebrews a few thousand years ago?

Henry

As an archaeologist, I have an absolute certainty that all civilizations fail. As a student of ancient literature, I am cetain that we have not actaully progressed very far form the ancient past.

Hey there PZ, we are screwed because some people won’t stand against the abuse of others. Case in point is the abuse of Paul Mirecki, which Panda’s Thumb rightwing fatheads like Ed Brayton denied, and you down played.

Ham’s statement surprises you…why? Following is quoted from their statement of faith…

“No apparent, perceived, or claimed interpretation of evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.” (http://www.answersingenesis.org/about/faith)

This really explains pretty much everything about the entire movement, from IDiots like Dembski, to frothing Trolls like Keith, to authoritarian proselytizers like Ham. Arguing with people like this is a complete waste of time, unless it can illustrate to others the hard-core demagogery and rigid ideological extremism that forms their opinions. Of far greater concern are the reports that I have seen pointing to the domination of the military academies – in particular the Air Force Academy – by right wing evangelical fundamentalists. This might be a product of that. Nice to know that we have a bunch of people who pray for Armageddon with their fingers on the bomb.

Can someone explain as to why in the world Ken Ham would be asked to speak at a prayer breakfast in the Pentagon, let alone why there are prayer breakfasts in the Pentagon, a government agency?

I’m clutching at straws here but…

Maybe Ken Ham lied? He’s got truth issues with everything else. Maybe he’s just making stuff up to make himself sound good.

Is there any way somebody can verify that this ‘prayer breakfast’ actually happened?

Who invited him?

Where exactly did it take place?

( The situation room? The front lawn outside? The Burger King across the street?)

Who was there? (The entire staff? Just the Top Brass with Cheney looking on? Some idiot nephew of a desk-jockey Major?)

Please let this be the fevered delusion of a loon.

DavidK said:

Can someone explain as to why in the world Ken Ham would be asked to speak at a prayer breakfast in the Pentagon, let alone why there are prayer breakfasts in the Pentagon, a government agency?

I can sort of explain it. Sort of. These people are, generally, believers, and they are, in principle, entitled to exercise and express their religious beliefs, even at their place of work. What they can’t do, also as a general principle, is use the time or facilities or revenue that the taxpayers have provided to exercise or spread those beliefs. Perhaps confusingly, there is no impediment to their attending religious services as part of their duties. Imagine what would be the result of forbidding senior officers from attending in their professional capacity and in uniform at, say, military funerals or memorial services and the like.

Nevertheless, there’s a distinction between these and a “prayer breakfast”, and I think the courts should be invited to define it. If these officers and public servants are being paid for the time they spend praying, or listening to wackjobs like Ham, or if they use government facilities or equipment for it, or if any taxpayers’ money at all is being spent in supporting or funding these religious exercises, then it appears to me, a foreigner, that the Separation Clause of the US Constitution might apply. I speak, of course, under correction.

It’s a curious business, this separation of Church and State. I come from a nation where Parliament is opened by short prayers, and where the Head of State is said to be Head of the Church as well, but where these are universally recognised to be formalities only to be respected by nonbelievers where they are substantially harmless. I know of no Member of Parliament whose private religious views were of any relevance whatsoever to his or her election, and it would be judged presumptuous and improper even to enquire about them, generally. The last Prime Minister, who was losing it at the time, suggested we should pray for rain, and was generally ignored where he was not derided. About a quarter of MP’s, national and state, choose to affirm rather than swear an oath of office, a statistic that is rather hard to find, apparently because nobody thinks it important. There is no pledge under God or for any other cause for any citizen, though the naturalisation ceremony (for new, adult, citizens) includes the option of an oath of allegiance.

In short, though we’re supposed to have some connection between Church and State, nobody takes any notice of it, and any attempt to establish a real one is no more than the fantasy of a few wild-eyed nutbars. In the US, on the other hand, there is a Constitutional ban on such an establishment, but there are threats of serious inroads on it by outright theocrats and these are actually considered respectable by many.

I have the feeling that the difference is explained by history. I’d really like to see a good elucidation of that history. Does anyone know one?

Torbjörn Larsson, OM said:

Pentagon prayer breakfasts.

Now go hurl.

From this reference it would appear that Pentagon prayer breakfasts are part of the military chaplaincy program. The US military employs thousands of chaplains of many diverse faiths around the world and to my knowledge their right to do this has never been legally challenged (at least successfully).

Now, as to what Ken Ham has to offer the Pentagon from a spiritual standpoint, that’s another story. Or, for that matter, what extraterrestrial life has to do with the Pentagon (perhaps the military had been hoping to expand its recruiting pool for the upcoming war with Iran?).

A Review of Infiltrating the U.S. Military: Is the Religious Right Engaged in a Seditionist Bid to Takeover America?

http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominio[…]arriors.html

Three observations:

First, regarding the topic of “extraterrestrial life”, it’s worth your time to read the entire Arizona Daily Star article. It’s actually a very good summary, a well-written snapshot of how diverse religions view the topic. Whatever you believe or don’t believe regarding ET’s, it’s an interesting exercise to compare your views with representatives of various religions.

http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/243860

********

Second, looks like nobody at the Pentagon has done anything wrong there.

From this reference it would appear that Pentagon prayer breakfasts are part of the military chaplaincy program. The US military employs thousands of chaplains of many diverse faiths around the world and to my knowledge their right to do this has never been legally challenged (at least successfully).

Well said, Jkc. Whether it be.…

(1) Pentagon prayer breakfasts, (2) White House prayer breakfasts, (3) state governors’ prayer breakfasts, (4) or even local mayor’s prayer breakfasts, .…we Americans DO have the right to do these things under the United States Constitution.

And also, we Americans have the right to invite whomever we will, to speak at such occasions. We are NOT violating any “separation of church and state” by doing these things.

Now if the atheists disagree, they can always contact their local ACLU chapter and have ‘em file a lawsuit right here and now. Of course, if (more likely, when) the local ACLU chooses NOT to file that lawsuit, well you’ll already know why. The atheists will just have to settle for the usual atheist hand-wringing and nightmares on their own time and dime.

********

Finally, Ken Ham doesn’t actually say what the topic of his Pentagon message will be. The Pentagon prayer breakfast should be seen as a separate issue, for now, from the Daily Star extraterrestrial article.

But having said that, let’s focus on Ken Ham’s position on extraterrestrial life. WHY does Ham believe that “The real world is the biblical world–a universe designed by God with the Earth at the spiritual focal point, not an evolutionary universe teeming with life”?

Actually, Ham gives some very good reasons from the Bible for what he believes. Whatever you may believe, it’s worth taking time to at least understand Ham’s position.

I like to remind people of Psalm 115:16, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S; But the earth He has given to the children of men.”

Scripture certainly makes earth the center stage. The heavens are there to “declare the glory of God,” but the earth was made for humans to inhabit.

So it seems even from these passages, one would not expect life in outer space—-only the earth was made specially for intelligent physical beings to dwell on.

Also, the Bible makes it clear that the whole of creation groans because of sin (Romans 8:22)—and that Jesus stepped into history on earth to become a human (the God man)—-a perfect man, but God, so He could die on a cross, be raised from the dead and offer a free gift of salvation. Jesus remains the “God man,” as he is our Savior. Jesus did not become a “Martian” or a “Klingon” or some other being—he became a human (as God).

So, it wouldn’t make any sense for there to be intelligent beings like us on other planets—they would be suffering from the effects of sin but can’t have salvation, as only descendants of Adam can be saved.

One day the whole universe will be wound up—the judgment by fire—and there will be a New Heavens and Earth. I always say that there can’t be intelligent life like us on other planets—the Bible does not say there is or is not animal or plant life on other planets—but I highly suspect not.

Now, I would not expect many people in this forum to agree with Ken Ham’s explanation. But there’s nothing unreasonable about it from a Christian perspective.

After all, the Bible DOES say those things in Psalms and Romans, (check it out!), and it’s very reasonable to expect Christians to at least believe their own Bibles.

FL :)

While this would be fine on Pharyngula, I don’t believe it’s the job of PT to bash Christianity. But I agree it is very worrying.

Venus Mousetrap, I don’t see how this feature is bashing Christianity, and thus I consider it fair game for a PT post.

It seems to me that the most worrying aspect of it is that Ken Ham, a known liar, has been invited to speak to a group of people (whose constituents are not clear) by the Pentagon in an official capacity.

From Ken’s point of view, this must be a wonderful opportunity to claim some official validation of his ideas.

As a non-US citizen, I find it worrying that the people that control the largest nuclear arsenal in the world are showing official respect for Ken Ham’s brand of insidious claptrap.

Now, I would not expect many people in this forum to agree with Ken Ham’s explanation. But there’s nothing unreasonable about it from a Christian perspective

Just who are you trying to kid FL ???? As a Christian who has successfully completed a degree level astronomy course I find Ham’s statements on the possibility of extra terrestrial life truly bizarre, like this piece of utter nonsense from AiG (UK)’s Paul Taylor that appeared on their website a few weeks ago:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/art[…]stronomer-et

But if there were alien intelligences, they could not be free from original sin. Romans 8:22 reminds us that “the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” It would seem odd for these poor alien intelligences to be affected by the sin of another intelligent being on one obscure planet somewhere else in the universe. Although my faith would not be shaken if I encountered an alien, these passages lend support to the idea that humans are the only intelligences in the universe, and Earth is the only place where God has created life.

What a load of crap !!!

I think we should be pleased that Ham actually made some sort of definitive statement. Odds are pretty good that when we do find alien life there will be no doubt it did not come from here. I fully would have expected him to weasel on the issue and claim that he doesn’t find it likely but that it has no direct contradiction to the Bible. He has made a prediction that would falsify his beliefs by his own admission. Here’s to hoping we get a little lucky soon!

I don’t believe it’s the job of PT to bash Christianity.

Funny how that one-way ratchet works, isn’t it? Disallow or at least avoid criticizing the dominant source of credulity in our culture, so that we can avoid alienating the believers, so they can go on being credulous idiots, who will then go on to whine piteously at every criticism.

Get over yourself. PT is a site for a diverse set of views, some pro-religion, some utterly despising it. You don’t get to dictate which perspective is allowed.

And how does your claim fit with this other commenter’s assertion?

Now, I would not expect many people in this forum to agree with Ken Ham’s explanation. But there’s nothing unreasonable about it from a Christian perspective.

Right. Then we damn well better start criticizing Christianity more.

Jeff Sharlett has a few interesting things to say on this topic.

Venus Mousetrap says: “While this would be fine on Pharyngula, I don’t believe it’s the job of PT to bash Christianity. But I agree it is very worrying.”

.

Plus, as PT’s PvM has indicated, in the Collins vs Coulter thread (and elsewhere), where he was “sorry to hear that [I supposedly agreed] with the atheist position of the Christian God to be a delusion”—-the “simple fact [is] that there is no irreconcilability of Christianity and Darwinism,” and “Since science cannot prove or disprove the supernatural, the suggestion that science rejects or is at odds with Christianity is flawed.” etc.

But then if there is no irreconcilability between Christianity and Darwinism (and/or science) as PvM claims, then why would the Dawinians here be getting so upset when a xian speaks at a prayer breakfast, and/or that people with big guns even have prayer breakfasts? Maybe genuine Darwinians do perceive an irreconcilability between Christianity and Darwinism (and/or science and/or reality) after all? Maybe genuine Dawinians do believe that PvM’s “Christian God” is a delusion after all? Imagine that.

Historically the debate over the existence of intelligence life has been very wrapped up in theology. Indeed, prior to about 1900 one had all sorts of theological arguments being made, and the theological arguments were often intertwined with scientific arguments. Moreover, many atheistic and deistic writers in the 19th century actually argued essentially as Ham does but ran the argument in reverse, saying that the universe was obviously teaming with life and therefore Christianity should be rejected.

I wrote a blog entry on this a month or so ago: http://religionsetspolitics.blogspo[…]can-and.html

The definitive work on this issue is Michael J. Crowe, “The Extraterrestrial Life Debate, 1750-1900”

P. Z. Meyers says: “Disallow or at least avoid criticizing the dominant source of credulity in our culture, so that we can avoid alienating the believers, so they can go on being credulous idiots … “

.

OMG, then PT’s PvM has gotten it wrong after all—-genuine Darwinians like Meyers do see believers as being idiots, genuine Darwinians are convinced that Christianity is utterly irreconcilable with Darwinism (and/or science and/or reality). I hope someone is able to break this gently to PvM (and the other Darwinians that were taken in by PvM’s credulity).

bigbang said:

OMG, then PT’s PvM has gotten it wrong after all—-genuine Darwinians like Meyers do see believers as being idiots, genuine Darwinians are convinced that Christianity is utterly irreconcilable with Darwinism (and/or science and/or reality). I hope someone is able to break this gently to PvM (and the other Darwinians that were taken in by PvM’s credulity).

No, really, you can find decaffienated coffee that tastes just as good as the real thing. Honest.

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 1, column 59, byte 59 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

This is very disturbing to me, and I am NOT anti-religion. I strongly SUPPORT the right of Americans (and other human beings) to live and believe as they see fit.

However, certain beliefs, if sincere, rule out the choice of certain professions.

Ken Ham is a raving anti-science nutjob. Some military jobs are compatible with his views - low level jobs. However, high level military command should require a decent grasp of applied science. Anyone ignorant or delusional enough to believe in Ken Ham’s nonsense should not be in a high military command position.

Yes, this kind of thing should play a role in military promotion. Candidates who hold certain types of amoral or delusional beliefs are not suited. This has nothing to do with religious discrimination. It is Ken Ham’s denial of science that is the issue here. To fully explain the logic, imagine if Ken Ham started to argue that airplanes don’t need fuel to fly, but rather, are carried by angels. This is no more irrational than his recorded anti-science nonsense. High military command requires sufficient grasp of applied science to understand military systems and weapons. Ken Ham’s views on science rule out dependable understanding of such items by those who accept said views.

Everyone has a right to believe as they see fit, but no-one has a right to a military promotion. Someone whose scientific education is poor enough that they could believe that the earth is 6000 years old should be denied significant promotion. It has nothing to do with religion, it has to do with the fact that if the earth were 6000 years old, nuclear weapons might not work, etc. All of our science, including military applications, would be wrong. A high ranking officer cannot function if he or she believes such nonsense.

The typical PT squawking about whether or not evolution is “compatible with” Christianity at some rarified philosophical level is, as always, utterly irrelevant to the point under discussion.

Speaking of prayers in the military, who remembers this Dembski classic?

http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives[…]etector.html

Well at least this yahoo had the guts to make a definitive statement about exactly what physical evidence would completely invalidate his position.

Imagine that, science looking for signs of life elsewhere in the universe and religious nutcases closing their eyes and hoping that is doesn’t happen.

Now when alien life forms are eventually discovered, do you think that this guy will admit that he was completely wrong about everything, including the age of the earth. Maybe he will try to deny the evidence or claim that he never said these things. More likely he will claim that the type of life discovered doesn’t qualify by some obscure criteria he will make up later.

A real scientist doesn’t make up his mind based on the pronouncments of a 2 - 6,000 year old book. A real scientist decides such issues by looking for evidence. This is just one more reason to intensify the search for extraterrestrial life. Then Ken can have an alien exhibit in his “museum”.

High military command requires sufficient grasp of applied science to understand military systems and weapons. Ken Ham’s views on science rule out dependable understanding of such items by those who accept said views.

Well said, Harold, well said!! There are many Christians and people, who’s religion are of Jedeo/Christian heritage, who blog here. Bigbang and FL come here to make a point of declaring their Christian faith, yet theirs is a minority view of Christianity, and they do Christianity a disservice by being so ignorant of science. FL and Bigbang, you are not the only Christians here, and your faith in the authority of the Bible is misplaced. If you are experts of scriptures, what is the Biblical perspective on Jesus’s most beloved disciple. If that disciple is not Mary of Magdala, who is it? What is the Biblical perspective on what Judas did in the garden of Gethsemane. Since there are many accounts in the Bible, which one do you choose and why? I have seen the website that reconciles the two stories of Creation in Genesis, and it is all made up, it is not even interpretation. Did the Christian God order the Israelites to commit genocide and rape? Is the accidental killing of a fetus in the womb a simple misdemeanor? It’s in the Bible. FL and Bigbang, you know nothing of science or Christianity.

So there are apparently people in the Pentagon who are sympathetic to YEC. So what? There are also people in the Pentagon who think it’s fine and dandy to try to negotiate with terrorists.

Every day, I find it more and more difficult to care.

Both presidential candidates are sympathetic to ID and utterly ignorant of the basic rules of science and reason. One candidate’s entire party platform systematically denies that science, reason, history, or the study thereof is any use at all. (Indeed, some would argue that both parties’ platforms do this.)

Science will not play a role in this election, and the winner will not care a lick about science, reason, history, or the study thereof.

Get used to it.

Before we waste any more time with bogbang or FL, I think I should make a few observations:

First, FL has admitted in at least one previous thread that he’s a Young-Earth Creationist, and that he believes his God created the Universe with an “appearance of age.” Since he believes in a God who lies on a literally Universal scale, there is no reason to expect him to behave honestly in any situation.

Second, both bigbang and FL have gummed up one thread with ignorant and dishonest statements, had those statements clearly refuted, and have run off to repeat the same statements, unaltered, on another thread. Both appear to be doing the same thing on this thread, so there is, again, no reason for us to expect them to behave with any trace of honesty or maturity. Both of these trolls have proven themselves uneducable, so responding to them yet again would probably be a complete waste of time.

wikipedia AIG:

Financing and fundraising has been an important of the ministry. Its US revenue in 2005 was $13.7M.[17] According to Charity Navigator, in FYE 2006, Answers in Genesis had $13,675,653 in total revenue and $12,257,713 in expenses.[18]

AIG’s budget is large but not that large. Runs around $14 million a year.

Ham has no basis for his comments about ETs. His theology is like his science, he just makes stuff up.

Given his statement that no evidence can contradict his version of the bible, if SETI found some alien broadcasts or UFO aliens landed somewhere, he would just claim they didn’t exist. Reminds me of that creationist in Arkansas who believes UFOs are real but are piloted by demons.

wolfwalker said:

Both presidential candidates are sympathetic to ID …

Ahhhhhh … no. Obama: “And I think it’s a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don’t hold up to scientific inquiry.”

Also: “Intelligent design is not science. We should teach our children theology to get them to think about the meaning of life. But that’s separate from how atoms or photons work.” This is from the Obama website, BTW.

A statement from THE NATIONAL JOURNAL website read:

McCain believes in evolution, personally believes that :”intelligent design” “creationism” shouldn’t be taught in SCIENCE class, but is willing to leave that decision up to the states, ultimately, and also, believes that students should be exposed to the theory elsewhere, presumably in religion or social studies class.

Mark Salter, McCain’s long-time chief of staff and co-author and close friend, confirmed that our summary matches McCain’s views

Not entirely reassuring but at least he wasn’t talking like Mike Huckabee. “Governor Huckabee, I would no more vote for a politician who got up in public and said that humans weren’t another species of primate than I would for a politician who insisted that 2 + 2 = 5.”

White Rabbit (Greg Goebel) http://www.vectorsite.net/tadarwin.html

OMG, then PT’s PvM has gotten it wrong after all—-genuine Darwinians like Meyers do see believers as being idiots, genuine Darwinians are convinced that Christianity is utterly irreconcilable with Darwinism (and/or science and/or reality). I hope someone is able to break this gently to PvM (and the other Darwinians that were taken in by PvM’s credulity).

Meyers believes this because he is an atheist not because he is a Darwinian. Again BB looks foolish.

What a crock… Fascinating though to hear once again that BB’s faith is so strongly undermined by atheist arguments and statements.

Avenger,

Racial slur noted from the pig demon from hell.

For someone who regularly engages in animalism and necophilia in the dark of his lab you have some nerve insulting racoons.

This bill explicitly calls out exclusionary language on any religious materials or presentations..period.

I have been applying a special ID filter to all of the turd head evo posts for some time and they have all been rejected as due to random chaos and mutated brain activity.

There will be a dozen of these bills in play within a year.

If I had set my world view on evolution writ large I would be scared of letting in the light of ID as well…must be really scarey.

When will you and the NCSE get your red hooded robes to wear as inquisitors?

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This page contains a single entry by PZ Myers published on June 18, 2008 10:24 PM.

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