Skepticism, Religion Archive

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another Ray Comfort Tract

Going into the grocery store this past Friday, a lady standing by the door handed me this (click for higher res):

Million Dollar Bill Tract

This is similar to the tract I blogged about before, which I found in some Harry Potter and Golden Compass books (on another occasion, I found a tract in The God Delusion), but apparently, it's a newer, "better" version.

I was half tempted to start a discussion with the lady, but I was in a hurry to pick up a few things and then get home for my daughter's birthday party. Obviously, my daughter takes precedence over street corner debates, so I just chuckled to myself, put the tract in my pocket, and contented myself with knowing I'd be able to blog about it. There's not really much to say about the tract itself, though. It's pretty much the same old thing that's come from Comfort's organization before.

This incident did get me thinking, though. There needs to be some type of quick, easy handout to give to these people, as a kind of reciprocal gift to the tracts they're handing out. I found this, but that's a full brochure. It's not the type of thing I'd carry around in my back pocket, just in case I run into that pushy evangelical. There needs to be something business card sized, short and clear to get them thinking, without being obnoxious or mocking.

As an aside, I'd always given Ray Comfort the benefit of the doubt, assuming he was sincere, but just ignorant of science (and a few other things). I just found an entry on another blog that isn't quite so charitable.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ask and Ye Shall Receive - A Dubious Left Wing E-mail

Turtle Eating Plastic BagI recently wrote an entry about a phenomenon I'd noticed - "that the vast, vast majority of dubious politically related e-mails I've received are from the right side of the spectrum." I went on to point out that, "In fact, I can't recall a single chain e-mail I've received personally that has denigrated Republicans, social conservatives, or the religious right. But I've received plenty that criticize or demonize their opponents, almost always by either stretching the truth or by outright fabrication."

Well, I've finally received a dubious left wing e-mail. It contained a PowerPoint attachment titled The Dangers of Plastic Bags, which uses some questionable "facts." I converted that to a .pdf, which can be downloaded through the link below:
The Dangers of Plastic Bags (pdf - 1.52 MB).

I'm busy this week with trying to make a new page for my main site, so I won't devote a lot of effort into debunking the claims in that presentation, at least not yet. Hopefully I'll have a chance to follow up on this in the future. Instead, I'll link to a rebuttal from an admittedly biased source, the Plastics Industry Trade Association. Again, this is a .pdf:
Progressive Bag Alliance - Top 10 Myths About Plastic Grocery Bags (pdf - 45.6 kB)

I agree with the general sentiment of the e-mail forward. Plastic bags last a long time without breaking down, are hazardous to wildlife, and it seems that they're being found in just about every habitat on Earth. It would be much better for the environment if we reduced the amount of plastic bags we used. Just buying a couple things from the store? Carry them out without a bag. Wanna be a real tree hugger? Take a reuseable canvas bag. But it does your cause no good try to further your agenda through misinformation. People will think you're a liar, or at best unreliable, and doubt the rest of the information you're providing.

Okay, so for the five years I've been living in Texas (I'm not going to try to remember farther back than that), I've received a grand total of 1 dubious left wing e-mail, and more dubious right wing e-mails than I care to count. I'd sure like to see the totals get reduced to zero for both sides of the political spectrum.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Another Surprise at the Bookstore

I wrote an entry a while ago, about finding some religious inserts in Lyra's Oxford, a short book written by Phillip Pullman as a kind of mini sequel to the His Dark Materials trilogy, as well as a few other children's books. Just recently, on the advice of several people (including Eric of the New Minority blog), I finally decided to purchase The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins' book on religion. (I'm already most of the way through it, and hope to put up a review some time within the next couple months. In short, I agree with most, though not all, of what Dawkins has written.) Just about the time I was halfway through the book, a little card fell out into my lap:

Living Waters IQ Test - Front of Card
Living Waters IQ Test - Back of Card

The card was printed by the same organization, Living Waters Ministries, headed by the same person, Ray Comfort, as the cards I found in Lyra's Oxford and the other books I mentioned in that entry (man, that took some restraint on my part not to use a different noun to describe Comfort). Given Dawkins' subject material, I wasn't nearly as surprised this time as when I found the inserts in the children's books, and this insert isn't nearly as disengenious. Still, it seems we have a misguided busybody at our local bookstore. Plus, it's always a bit unpleasant to be reminded of the inventor of the argumentum ad bananum.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Website Update - New Factoid Debunking Page

Factoids?I've been neglecting the main part of my website a little too long, but I've finally made an update. I got another factoid e-mail in my inbox that was just too ripe to pass up, so I now have Factoids Debunked & Verified, Part III. This was one of the worst factoid e-mails I've ever received. Usually, there are at least some germs of truth. This one seems to be fabricated through and through.

Updated 2008-06-30 - corrected the link to go to the proper page.

Friday, June 13, 2008

No Big Entry This Week, But I Did Leave a Good Comment

I've stated several times that my goal for this blog is to make at least one good substantive post per week, or to at least make an update to the regular part of this website. Well, I've spent my lunch breaks this week typing up a response to two comments left on one of my older blog entries, Problems With Day-Age Interpretation of Genesis. Basically, I expanded on the original essay with a few more issues. My main problem with a day-age interpretation is that it's still not consistent with the actual history of the universe and our planet. But I pretty much didn't address that in my response, to concentrate on two issues that I thought were most troubling even ignoring actual history - what does the wording in the second day even mean? And how could plants have survived without the sun and without pollinators? If that's the type of thing that interests you, you may want to go check it out.


Selling Out