Links and Comments: Gay Marriage; Evangelical Doomsday; Natural Selection is not a guide to life; Jibbers Crabst; the power of faith, and science, and physics

Slate’s William Saletan: A Conservative Case for Gay Marriage, subtitled, “How to talk to your antigay religious relatives about same-sex unions”.

Key points: homosexuality is not a sin, because it’s not a choice; it’s not harmful, but is in fact natural [like being left-handed, I would interject; a natural condition among a certain percentage of the population]; that marriage between gays can be treated like infertility between heterosexuals. And so on.

(Saletan is being very polite and deferential. My bottom line, why is the anti-gay crowd so obsessed with this subject? It *doesn’t matter* whether it’s a choice or not — What about the right, in the Declaration of Independence, to “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”, whatever that pursuit might entail about how one lives one’s own life, compared to how other people live theirs? I think I know why some people are obsessed with this subject, as I’ve detailed in previous posts, but will not spell out again at the moment.)

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Now, this is scary:

Salon, Why millions of Christian evangelicals oppose Obamacare and civil rights

It’s because evangelicals think the world is about to end — as certain factions have expected for two thousand years now, to no avail. The author says,

My argument in a nutshell is that the apocalyptic theology that developed in the 1880s and 1890s led radical evangelicals to the conclusion that all nations are going to concede their power in the End Times to a totalitarian political leader who is going to be the Antichrist. If you believe you’re living in the last days and you believe you’re moving towards that event, you’re going to be very suspicious and skeptical of anything that seems to undermine individual rights and individual liberties, and anything that is going to give more power to the state.

Let’s think again about how “moral” Christians think themselves to be, as opposed to everyone else.

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Natural selection explains why we’re here, but it’s not a guide to life:

Richard Dawkins gives a great answer as to whether evolution should be our guide in social policy:

Evolution by natural selection is the explanation for why we exist. It is not something to guide our lives in our own society. If we were to be guided by the evolution principle, then we would be living in a kind of ultra-Thatcherite, Reaganite society. … Study your Darwinism for two reasons, because it explains why you’re here, and the second reason is, study your Darwinism in order to learn what to avoid in setting up society. What we need is a truly anti-Darwinian society. Anti-Darwinian in the sense that we don’t wish to live in a society where the weakest go to the wall, where the strongest suppress the weak, and even kill the weak. We — I, at least — do not wish to live in that kind of society. I want to live in the sort of society where we take care of the sick, where we take care of the weak, take care of the oppressed, which is a very anti-Darwinian society.

(via http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/12_9_14/)

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In line with the post about Joel Osteen a couple posts ago, Choose Faith in Spite of the Facts, here is a very funny video from cartoonist Matt Inman about how he doesn’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution, but rather in something he calls Jibbers Crabst, who lives behind the rings of Saturn. Key passage, at about the 10 minute mark:

A friend of mine said, I’m showing you all the finger on my hand, how many fingers am I holding up?

I looked, and I said, you’re holding up three.

He said, no, I’m holding up five, look, one two three four five.

He said, how can you believe there’s three when I’m showing you five right now?

I said: That’s the power of faith.

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Here’s a post on John Scalzi’s blog, one of his frequent “Big Idea” posts, this time about author Chad Orzel’s new book Eureka!: Discovering Your Inner Scientist.

Key idea: how we all use the concept of science every day, even if we don’t call it that.

You look at the world around you,
You think about why it might work the way it does,
You test your theory with experiments and further observations, and
You tell everyone you know the results.

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Finally, coincident to my posts about the film Interstellar (and an upcoming post about reading a Stephen Hawking book), here is an XKCD comic, linked from Wired, about the Universe’s most bizarre physics (actually, fairly basic compared to the cutting-edge physics explored in Interstellar; but still rather mind-bending).

The XKCD Guide to the Universe’s Most Bizarre Physics

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