Website Update Archive

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Website Update - Top 10 Page List for February & March 2017

Top 10 ListWell, I fell behind again. I missed doing this list after February, so today is a two-fer.

There was only one newcomer between both months, but it's an entry I like a lot myself, Response to Kent Hovind Video - Bird Evolution. It really highlights how bad and misinformed creationist arguments can be. In fact, I'd even just included it on my new page, Recommended Reading - Evolution.

Speaking of, you may have noticed a new link in the side bar, Recommended Reading. I figure that with as many entries as I've written over the years, certain particularly informative ones just kind of get lost in the mix, so it might be useful for newcomers to have a list of some of those entries to start off with. There are also two sub-pages, one of which I already mentioned, Recommended Reading - Evolution and Recommended Reading - Religion.

Anyway, here are the top 10 most visited pages from this site for February and March:

Top 10 for February 2017

  1. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  2. Tank Game - QBasic Source Code
  3. Response to Global Warming Denialist E-mail - Volcanoes and Global Cooling
  4. Autogyro History & Theory
  5. Response to E-mail - 1400 years of In-breeding
  6. A Skeptical Look at MBT Shoes
  7. Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II
  8. A Skeptical Look at Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
  9. Response to E-mail - Are America's Hunters the World's Largest Army?
  10. Gamera Human Powered Helicopter


Top 10 for March 2017

  1. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  2. Response to E-mail - 1400 years of In-breeding
  3. Autogyro History & Theory
  4. Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II
  5. Response to Kent Hovind Video - Bird Evolution
  6. Debunking an E-mail on Charities
  7. Response to Global Warming Denialist E-mail - Volcanoes and Global Cooling
  8. Tank Game - QBasic Source Code
  9. A Skeptical Look at Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
  10. Response to E-mail - Are America's Hunters the World's Largest Army?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Recommended Reading - Evolution

Tree of LifeI write quite a bit about evolution, but if you're new to this site or the subject of evolution, it might be a little overwhelming to just browse through the site and read the articles at random. So, this page offers some recommendations on entries to start off with, to give you a good foundation before moving on. I very strongly recommend reading the first four essays in the Foundation section. And if you happen to doubt evolution for religious reasons, and have seen presentations or read material from some of the more prominent creationists (e.g. Answers in Genesis, Kent Hovind, Discovery Institute, etc.), then I'd also recommended the entries from the 'Responses to Misunderstandings and Creationist Arguments' section.


The Foundation


Exploring Other Evolutionary Concepts


Responses to Misunderstandings and Creationist Arguments

The first two of these are probably the most informative. They're also rather long. I took the time to respond in decent detail to a myriad of misunderstandings and misconceptions about evolution. The third is offered as a kind of example of the bad arguments many creationists use.


Further Reading, This Site

I've written quite a bit more about evolution and creationism. You can find most of it in the following archives.

  • Science & Nature Archive
    Evolution will be mixed in here along with a variety of other science topics. These entries tend to be more straight science.
     
  • Skepticism, Religion Archive
    These tend to be focused on skepticism, so the evolution related articles mixed in here will be more in response to creationists.
     
  • My Quora Profile
    Okay, this isn't exactly this site, but I do write a bit about evolution on Quora, and only adapt some of those answers for this blog. Evolution related answers will be mixed in with all my other Quor answers.
     


Further Reading, Other Sources

I'm actually going to link to a Quora answer I wrote with those types of sources. You can also see what others suggested.

Image Source: DavidPratt.info

Recommended Reading - Religion

Religion?I've written an entire book on religion, plus a ton of other essays for this site. That's a lot to expect anybody to read, so if you want the quick introduction, this is it.


For the super quick summary, I grew up as a Christian, with a strong and sincere faith. But as I grew older and learned more about religion and the world at large, I came to realize that religion simply wasn't true, and that atheism was by far the most likely explanation of the universe. The essays below explain all of that in a lot more detail.


Introduction

For Anyone Interested in Luring Me Back Into the Fold

  • How to Convert Me Back to Christianity
    This is a list of all the issues you would have to address to get me to reconsider the validity of Christianity, and whether or not to even be a Christian if you could demonstrate that it was true.
     
  • Standards of Evidence for Religion
    This is the type of evidence that would be required to convince me of the reality of gods or religions.
     

Additional Info

I've written a lot about religion. Here are four collections.

  • My Book, online
    I tried to keep the book short enough that it wouldn't be overwhelming, but long enough to be a good, informative introduction.
     
  • Religion Archive
    Pretty much all the religious essays I've ever written for this blog.
     
  • Friday Bible Blogging Index
    This is an ongoing effort to re-read the entire Bible as an atheist. I started off pretty good, but progress has been slow for a while.
     
  • My Quora Profile
    I write a fair amount about religion on Quora, though those answers are mixed in with all my other Quora answers.
     

Recommended Reading

Old Book Bindings, from Wikimedia CommonsIf you like this site, I'd recommend just looking around and browsing. But I've written nearly 1000 blog entries so far, not to mention all my static pages, so I know that you'd only get a small glimpse of everything I've written that way. So, I figured it might be useful to highlight a few essays and pages that are particularly useful or informative.


Disclaimers & What Not

  • Putting This Blog in Perspective
    Even if you disagree with practically everything I've written on my site, realize that we could probably still get along in person. There's a lot more I do in my day to day life, but not stuff that anybody would be interested in reading about.
     
  • Official Disclaimer
    The usual - this is all my own personal opinion, and doesn't represent any of the organizations I'm associated with.
     
  • Official Commenting Policy
    Basically - BNBR: Be nice, be respectful. Also, please provide references. And no spam.
     


Collections for Recommended Reading

For these subsections, there were so many recommendations, that I broke them out into their own pages:

  • Evolution
    I'm very, very intrigued by evolution, so I write about it a lot. And if I may say so, I think some of the things I've written are pretty informative.
     
  • Religion
    So, I'm an atheist. That's still a bit of an oddity in the U.S. (particularly in my neck of the woods), so here are some essays to start you off, with links to more info.
     


Politics

I know. Opinions about politics are like a certain body part - we all have one, and they all stink. But, since this is my personal website, I get to share mine (opinions about politics, that is).


Indices for Other Collections

There are a few subjects I've covered repeatedly, so I made indices for them. Since those indices might get lost amongst the rest of my entries, here are links to all of them.

  • The Ray Comfort Index
    Ray Comfort will always hold a special place on this blog for inspiring me to start it in the first place. This index contains all the entries I've ever written about him.
     
  • The Ben Carson Index
    I've actually written quite a bit about Ben Carson over the years. This is all of it.
     
  • Friday Bible Blogging Index
    This is an ongoing effort to re-read the entire Bible as an atheist. I started off pretty good, but progress has been slow for a while.
     
  • Book Review - God- or Gorilla?
    If you're really interested in creationist claims from 100 years ago, then this is the series for you. I reviewed a 1922 creationist book in detail.
     

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Putting This Blog in Perspective

PerspectiveI wanted to expand on something I wrote a few years ago in the entry, The Misleading Image of Bloggers. If you come and visit this blog and read my entries here, I think it would be very easy to get a misleading image of what I'm like in real life, and maybe even some misunderstanding over just how strongly I really feel about certain issues.

First of all are the topics I discuss here. I write an awful lot about religion and politics on this blog, as well as skepticism in general. Those are topics that interest me, but I know they're not topics that interest everybody, and even if they did, they're not necessarily polite topics for dinner conversation. Nobody wants to be that guy that's always starting a religious or political debate every time you hang out with them. Granted, I do like to discuss these things when they come up, but I usually wait for other people to bring them up. If you happened to meet up with me on a Friday night to go grab a beer, chances are that these topics wouldn't even come up. So, this blog gives me an opportunity to write about these issues without boring my friends.

Plus, it's not like I only think about religion and politics. Like I wrote in that older entry, "Nobody except my friends and family really cares what TV shows I've been watching, what I've been eating for supper every night, the chores I did around the house last weekend, the grades my daughter makes in school, how she did at her piano recital, or many of the other things I do or talk about on a daily basis." I write about certain topics because I do think there's an audience that will like reading about them. And even if it's not a huge audience, at least it's a bigger audience than just my wife and parents, who are just about the only people that would want to hear about all my mundane day to day experiences.

Second is how I feel about the 'opposition'. I criticize religion, creationism, conservative politics, climate change denialism, etc. And while I may at times call out certain individuals holding those positions, I don't mean to imply that all people holding those positions are bad people, nor necessarily even the specific individuals I'm calling out. All people have a multitude of views on a multitude of issues, and I seriously doubt that any one person is going to agree with me on everything. So, when I criticize creationism, for example, I'm specifically criticizing just that one belief. I don't think most creationists are bad people. I think they're just mistaken about that particular issue.*

Moreover, while I criticize religion a lot and think that on balance it does more harm than good (see the previous entry, Why Do I Spend So Much Time on Religion, for plenty of examples of the harm of religion, including fire bombings and persecuting children as witches, or a recent entry, Christian Privilege, showing the undue privilege religion receives in our culture), I don't think it's universally horrible in every aspect. Religiously motivated soup kitchens and homeless shelters do good in the world. Christmas bazaars and pot lucks can foster a sense of community. People who have had traumatic experiences can often find comfort in religious beliefs.

In addition, I hold people to different standards depending on the situation. I've already written about this in the entry, Run of the Mill vs. Big Name Creationists. Most people never had evolution presented to them well in high school biology, and don't have much reason to study it, now. As I wrote previously, "It's hard to get good and pissed off at someone who believes something and hasn't ever been shown a good reason not to believe it." But when someone like Ben Carson, a respected neurosurgeon, goes and gives a presentation to the public, or participates in public debates, then I do expect him to have done enough research to understand the issue and speak about it knowledgeably. And then there are the prominent creationists / creationist organizations like Answers in Genesis, or Kent Hovind, or Ray Comfort, who I know have been exposed to credible science, yet continue to spread their falsehoods. And even though I just used creationism for my example, that's not the only issue where I look at things this way. It applies to politics, science, and a whole bunch of other fields. I get much more upset with people who should know better but continue to spread misinformation.

In real life, I have friends of all types of religious and political persuasions. I have friends ranging from fundamentalist Christians to Muslims to agnostics and atheists, from young and old earth creationists to evolutionary biologists, from die hard Trump supporters to people who are far more liberal than me, from gun rights absolutists to people who would like to see more gun control (though no one I know of who would advocate outright bans). We get along because most of the things we do on a daily basis are talk about work, or vent about personal problems, or get together for a crawfish boil, or go out to happy hour, or help each other move, or, well, all the normal stuff everybody does.

So, if you're reading this blog, and you think I'm attacking you personally, please keep in mind that that's usually not my intent. I try for the most part to be civil and criticize ideas, positions, or policies. If I've crossed the line and written something offensive, then I apologize, and I would ask you to point it out to me so that I could address it in the future.

And keep in mind that this entire blog is only a small slice of my views - the ones I think people would be interested in reading. If you ever met me in real life, even if we disagree about these issues, there's still a very good chance we could get along just fine and find common ground in other areas.

---


*As a side note on that, though, I'm not so naive and idealistic as to think that everybody is always acting honorably. I've written quite a bit about Ray Comfort on this blog over the years. I know he's been exposed to the science regarding evolution, but he repeats the same falsehoods year after year. And he still uses dishonest tactics like quote mining and selective editing to make documentaries. It gets harder and harder to believe that he's not knowingly using dishonest tactics.

Image Source: Return of Kings

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