Presumptions

I was watching a show the other night called “Monster Quest,” wherein an impersonal team conducts searches for various cryptozoological creatures such as Champ, the yeti, or the Mongolian death worm.  This particular episode focused on the Ropen.

The Ropen is supposedly a large, leathery flying predator native to Papua New Guinea which sets itself apart from other creatures through a twenty-foot wingspan and bioluminescence.  Supposedly it greatly resembles a glow-in-the-dark pterosaur.

Part of the expedition was a representative of “Genesis Park,” a creationist organization that seeks to prove dragon-like creatures of mythology as proof that humans and dinosaurs lived alongside one another, a la The Flintstones.  In order to help push the asinine notion theory that pterosaurs still live in Papua New Guinea, something that was mentioned when someone pointed out that there’s no evidence that pterosaurs were bioluminescent, this particular man claimed that fossils don’t tell us the whole story and so we can’t possibly know that.

That claim is highly presumptuous.  It’s true, fossils simply can’t tell us everything, however, given what they can tell us–how the skeletons were put together, diet (teeth), muscle size and arrangement (imprints on the bones)–we simply can’t make wild guesses just because the fossils don’t specifically say “no.”  As I pointed out at Florio’s, I can claim that the fossil T.rex “Sue” was a devout Shinto, there’s nothing specific in her fossils that says otherwise, but I don’t get to complain when people point and laugh at me.

In case you’re curious, the Ropen is most likely a combination of folklore, hysteria, and misidentified hornbills, which are massive birds that have been compared to pterosaurs before.

Why Can’t I Own a Canadian?

Let’s be honest, the religious in this country have an awful habit of cherry-picking from the Bible in order to add authority to whatever powerfully wrong claim they are making at the time.  Faced with this idiocy, I must assume that we’ve all wanted to call them on their crap, or take their arguments to absurd levels.

Well, someone did.

In response to Dr. Laura Schlessinger, an Orthodox Jew at the time, citing homosexuality’s evil by quoting Leviticus, an unknown person wrote an incredibly snarky letter that went on to become an internet meme.

We know not who wrote this letter, and I find it irresponsible to throw in the names of commonly assumed  perpetrators, but here is the letter in full (copied and pasted from RationalWiki).

 

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Leviticus 1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness – Leviticus 17:19-24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Leviticus 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination – Leviticus 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

Leviticus 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Leviticus 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Leviticus 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Leviticus 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? – Leviticus24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Leviticus 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan,

Jim

 

Hope you all enjoy the snark.

Evolution of Weird–Bush Brown Caterpillars

Every now and again, nature runs out of ideas and has to reuse old themes.  This is the reason why long-eared jerboas look and act so much like kangaroos, despite being from entirely different continents.

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Why they look so much like Pokémon is really beyond the realm of this post.

Generally this is the result of “convergent evolution,” unrelated animals evolving the same method to deal with the same problems.  Sometimes, however, nature just seems to do it for giggles; case in point, the Chinese Bush Brown caterpillar.

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Too squishy to be adorable, too cute to step on.

I suppose this is the part where I’m supposed to fill you in on the life cycle and behavior of this thing, but it’s a caterpillar, just a caterpillar.  It doesn’t even live up to that cat face and eat meat like it’s Hawai’ian relatives I covered a few post ago.  It gets placed on a leaf as an egg, hatches into a bizarre-looking kittypillar (tell me you didn’t see that pun coming), eats and morphs into a butterfly.

Sadly the butterfly is nothing special, it’s colored to look like a dead leaf and has eyespots on its wings, and it didn’t even have the decency to make those spots look like cat-eyes.  No, apart from the weird preference all the young, schoolgirl butterflies have for the older guys–which probably has something to do with good genes that lead to long lives–all the fame goes to the larva form of this particular bug.

Found all over Asia, it should come as no surprise that these Pokémon lookalikes are famous in Japan, where they were once worshipped as minor deities.

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Count on Japan to make caterpillars adorable.

 

 

 

 

Fascinating

Idaho.  It’s a fantastic state, the land of potatoes and…um, well there’s, no that’s, that’s not…but there’s, uh.

Well, that’s unimportant.  You see, a bit of hilarity has come creeping from the land of spuds, an odd little factoid about the state legislature.  Republican State Representative Vito Barbieri supports a bill that would prevent doctors from prescribing abortion medication through telemedicine.  Ostensibly, this is to protect women who may have negative side-effects from the medications, though lawmakers are in no way shy about admitting that this is just another step in making abortions harder to come by in Idaho.

In 2013, the then-Representative Ron Mendive asked if the American Civil Liberties Union if their pro-abortion stance also meant they supported prostitution.  That snippet was to show you what living in a state where, apparently, no one gives any fucks whatsoever about the concept of correlation.

While hearing testimony from a doctor who opposed the bill, and who had just made an anecdotal statement about how colonoscopies may utilize cameras to better give doctors an idea of what’s going on, Rep. Vito Barbieri asked the question–and I shall directly quote here–“Can this same procedure then be done in a pregnancy? Swallowing a camera and helping the doctor determine what the situation is?”

The doctor, presumably trying to hide her astonishment at the rampant idiocy of this man, replied that swallowed objects do not find their way into the vagina.

“Fascinating. That makes sense.”

Rep. Barbieri later tried to pass off this comment as rhetorical, but I don’t believe this spud-muncher for a second.  Not only is the comment asinine in context (the context supposedly being that he wanted to show the lack of correlation between a colonoscopy and an abortion) but it fits with the complete lack of knowledge of female anatomy Republicans so eagerly trot out.  I’m not saying this is on the level of Todd Akin’s belief that vaginas have shields against dishonest sperm (which may just be the nicest way of summarizing his legitimate rape claims) but it completely fits the prevailing theme with Republicans that, when it comes to how the female body operates, they have no fucking clue what they’re talking about.

Argument From Embarrassment

Over at WEIT, there is a screen shot of a tongue-in-cheek Tweet from atheist philosopher Maarten Boudry.  Boudry has developed a new argument for the existence of God.  It goes like this:

If you were God, wouldn’t you be so embarrassed by your earthly representatives that you would want to hide?

Ergo, God exists.