Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Truth Fish feeds again....

Imagine what hilarity/spasming/sorrow ensued within my feeble mind when I stumbled across a blog post pointing me towards this mockery of sane thinking. Well, within a short while, I was able to merrily go about my business knowing I had restored some modicum of rational thought in my life through my creation of this:

I bet this will look great on my bumper, too.
I also bet that some of you nifty FSM folk could whip up a mean decal, too.
Let me see it if you do.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Joseph DuRocher is a Hero

I believe the following to be an open letter, of public domain, and fit for public reprint. Whether or not this is true, please view the original page.

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As a young man I was honored to serve our nation as a commissioned officer and helicopter pilot in the U. S. Navy. Before me in WWII, my father defended the country spending two years in the Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Hornet (CV-14). We were patriots sworn “to protect and defend”. Today I conclude that you have dishonored our service and the Constitution and principles of our oath. My dad was buried with full military honors so I cannot act for him. But for myself, I return enclosed the symbols of my years of service: the shoulder boards of my rank and my Naval Aviator'’s wings.

Until your administration, I believed it was inconceivable that the United States would ever initiate an aggressive and preemptive war against a country that posed no threat to us. Until your administration, I thought it was impossible for our nation to take hundreds of persons into custody without provable charges of any kind, and to "disappear" them into holes like Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram. Until your administration, in my wildest legal fantasy I could not imagine a U.S. Attorney General seeking to justify torture or a President first stating his intent to veto an anti-torture law, and then adding a "signing statement" that he intends to ignore such law as he sees fit. I do not want these things done in my name.

As a citizen, a patriot, a parent and grandparent, a lawyer and law teacher I am left with such a feeling of loss and helplessness. I think of myself as a good American and I ask myself what can I do when I see the face of evil? Illegal and immoral war, torture and confinement for life without trial have never been part of our Constitutional tradition. But my vote has become meaningless because I live in a safe district drawn by your political party. My congressman is unresponsive to my concerns because his time is filled with lobbyists'’ largess. Protests are limited to your "free speech zones"”, out of sight of the parade. Even speaking openly is to risk being labeled un-American, pro-terrorist or anti-troops. And I am a disciplined pacifist, so any violent act is out of the question.

Nevertheless, to remain silent is to let you think I approve or support your actions. I do not. So, I am saddened to give up my wings and bars. They were hard won and my parents and wife were as proud as I was when I earned them over forty years ago. But I hate the torture and death you have caused more than I value their symbolism. Giving them up makes me cry for my beloved country.

Joseph W. DuRocher

I took a moment to respond to Mr. DuRocher. My response is free to be posted elsewhere under the conditions that it be done so only in conjuction with Mr. DuRocher's letter and only in its entirety. My requests are made in the quest to prevent malicious intent through intentional misquotation and juxtaposition.

Dear Joseph W. DuRocher,

My name is Adam Myers and I will be 28 this December. I have had nowhere near the experiences in life as you have had, but your words resonate within me. I serve as a youth minister for a United Methodist church outside of Jacksonville, FL. There are two military facilities nearby, Mayport Naval Station and Naval Air Station: Jacksonville. This is also a largely Republican-dominant and Evangelical-dominant (with much crossover) region. As a person who loves God and as many other human beings as I humanly can, I can't express how frustrated I have become during these last six years. This, too, is a very safe area for Republicans. I am regularly ribbed (many times good-natured, many times not) as to my political and social beliefs, that I am a "liberal who will grow up someday". I often campaign civilly and nonviolently for the protections you both mention and served for, while many people exclaim how un-American, misguided, and disrespectful I am for opposing the war or our president in war-time. I have been told from within my own congregation that God blesses the US to go to war because we are the "peacemakers" as mentioned in the beatitudes. I've had recent conversations where people explain that they're not worried about wire-tapping, the Patriot Act, or other measures because they're not doing anything wrong. People have said to me that it is better to torture others who may have information we need because it would be worse if we didn't and another 9/11 or worse were to occur (are they trying to convince me or themselves?). I, too, support and engage in nonviolent action yet wonder how effective can it be when relegated to nonsensical "free speech zones", is not the US a free speech zone?

Writing to you is part cathartic, part grasping for the solution you, too, seem to be grasping for. I have nothing to send the president as you have, but I should send a letter none-the-less. Thank you for your inspiration, its worth for me today is invaluable.

With warm regards,
Adam Myers

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Why the Public is Fearful of Evolution

Editorandpublisher.com is reporting a new Gallup Poll study stating that a whopping 54% of Americans believe God created human beings wholesale, as we are in present form.

What, exactly, is it that so many people find offensive regarding the wonder, majesty, and mystery of evolution? I believe it has less to do with the idea of evolution itself and more to do with the minority of religious fundamentalists espousing a fear of science. These preachers framed the debate long ago by referring to early life as "pond scum". It was, and continues to be, an emotional appeal based on semantics rather than either faith or science. Who wants to believe that they, a mighty human being, were ever related to algae or bacteria? Additionally, they continued to push the "Adam and Eve as factual history" line, which is impossible to support except by referring back to the story itself, which makes no claim to be history, and some conversational connection later on by something Jesus said, though that link between Jesus' comment and the historicity of Adam and Eve is tenuous at best.

Evolution is an incredible phenomenon supported by mountains of evidence, observation, and research. Yet people call for proof and then ignore the supplied material. There is an infinitely smaller amount of evidence for support of Creationism (or ID/Intelligent Design), and yet people will cling to it out of fear and lack of knowledge. Evolution says, "Here is a tremendous amount of information pointing towards evolution being the biological means in which we are what we are today". Creationism (ID) says, "There are some gaps in the theory of evolution and we think the authors of the book of Genesis had a good theory, so it must be that we are here by the creation of God". The trouble is that Creationism/ID continually falls back to being a "God of the gaps" theory where, if an event were to be unexplained, it must be that God did it. And yet the evidence for evolution continues to pour in, while the scant scientific support for Creationism continues to shift as it's picked apart.

I believe Creationism gets a larger podium than it deserves for several reasons. Firstly, it's what people want to hear. Human beings want to hear that we are special, that there is no way we could be related to other animals, much less algae and bacteria. For some, it's probably gross or unsettling, for some it's a matter of vain pride, and for some it would mean a fundamental shift in our actions towards either animals or other human beings. For example, it may mean that we should either rethink or use of beef or ponder why we're not hunting people in overpopulated areas. If we're all related biologically, why not treat all biological organisms the same? Except this falls apart for a very simple reason: we decide what type of world we will be accepting of and then act accordingly. Currently, I fear that (even with billions of people of varying faiths that should believe otherwise) the type of world we accept has fallen increasingly out of line with what each of the world's major belief systems says is acceptable. Secondly, Creationism is being touted by religious fundamentalist leaders who have large audiences and by high US government leaders who say it should be taught in schools. This allows the message to be repeated over and over and over again. An erroneous message, repeated often enough, by enough people in positions of authority, will eventually be clung to by many, if not most, people. There are many examples of such, the most famous of which I will refrain from mentioning for fear of invoking some form of Godwin's Law. I believe the majority of people who profess a belief in Creationism do so not out of an well-informed decision, but out of either an instilled fear of hell/God's wrath as if belief in evolution were somehow contrary to belief in God or out of a lack of knowledge on the support behind both Creationism and evolution. Many people I have spoken to who identify themselves as Creatonists/ID-ers say that evolution, "seems far-fetched" or, "is to scientific to understand", though this is merely personal anecdote. Thirdly, I believe that the scientific community has estranged itself from the general public in the same way that organized Christianity has estranged itself from the general public. Polls repeatedly show the vast majority of Americans claim to attend church while only a minority actually do so on a regular basis and that while a majority of people believe in God, a majority of people also have a distrust of "organized religion". In the same way, people generally benefit from science and scientific advancement every moment of their lives, and yet there appears to be a healthy dose of skepticism towards science, scientists, and scientific study. General comments include things such as, "Scientists are arrogant or out of touch" or "scientists don't speak in a way I can easily understand". Either of these may be true, and yet neither of these actually negates what it is the scientific community is trying to convey. Unfortunately, most listeners will turn away and make decisions based on information obtained outside of scientific study and credible peer review.

As a person who identifies himself as a Christian, and as a person who finds evolution the most compelling and credible explanation for our biological reason for existence,I feel trapped between two worlds: one community which rejects my beliefs which are based on reason, study, experience, and discussion, and another community which does exactly the same.