Who Could Argue With Logic Like That?

Seems our old pal, Harun Yahya is back with another book. This one sounds like a winner:

PARIS (AFP) – Tens of thousands of French schools and universities have received copies of a Turkish book refuting Darwin’s theory of evolution and describing it as “the true source of terrorism.”

The education ministry said Friday that it had warned school and university directors that the textbook is not in line with the recognized curriculum and that they should disregard it.

Entitled “The Atlas of Creation,” the 770-page book by Turkish author Harun Yahya quotes several passages from the Koran and asserts that “human beings did not evolve (from another species) but were indeed created.”

[…] The book features a photograph of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center with the caption: “Those who perpetuate terror in the world are in fact Darwinists. Darwinism is the only philosophy that values and incites conflict.”

The theories of Charles Darwin are “the true source of terrorism,” it said.

Well, I’m convinced. I mean, the book is 770 pages long! Anything that long must be well researched. I bet it’s just bursting at the seems with well constructed and irrefutable truth.I wonder what other pieces of fine literature these schools have been gifted with?

The official said that the Church of Scientology had also embarked on a mass distribution of literature to schools a few years ago.

Via PZ Myers.

The World of the Day Before Yesterday– Now With Fedoras

At the library yesterday we received a donation of DVDs from Bridge Publications Inc. the publishing arm of the Church of Scientology. We regularly receive unsolicited donations from publishers but as these DVDs were lectures by L. Ron Hubbard on Scientology, I was intrigued.

Now, Tom Cruise and his nutty ass aside, Scientology has got to be the single weirdest pyramid scheme mistaken for a cult, masquerading as a religion out there, and that’s taking into account the Church of Latter Day Saints and their Mormon Underwear.

What’s really fascinating is not just how blatant the Church of Scientology is about being so totally made up but how many people still join, thinking that they will somehow find joy and happiness and completion in the half baked proselytizing of some hack science fiction Author. I guess there are an awful lot of Star Fuckers out there who think that if they have a really good audit and become an Operating Thetan that they’ll get to meet Tom Cruise, his zombie wife and their soon-to-be super fucked up baby.

But that’s not the interesting part. What is fascinating is the hokey Space Opera that plays a large role in the basic scripture of Scientology. Wikipedia gives us a run down of the highlights. My favorite is this part:

The Marcab Confederacy is said to be one of the most powerful galactic civilizations still active. He describes it as:

various planets united into a very vast civilization which has come forward up through the last 200,000 years, formed out of the fragments of earlier civilizations. In the last 10,000 years they have gone on with a sort of decadent kicked-in-the-head civilization that contains automobiles, business suits, fedora hats, telephones, spaceships” a civilization which looks almost an exact duplicate but is worse off than the current US civilization.
(“Auditing Comm Cycles”)

The capital of the Confederacy is said to be “one of the tail stars of the Big Dipper, probably Alkaid, a star 108 light years distant from Earth. The Marcabians used to rule Earth at some point in the past but lost control of it due to “losses in war and other things”.

The Marcabians had an oppressive political system: “if [a person] was considered to be in contempt of court or anything like that, [he was] simply fried since there was a curtain of radioactive material which went clear across the front of the bench anywhere that a witness or anybody would stand, and so on.” (“History and development of processes: question and answer period”) They invented income tax as a means of punishment, with the death penalty imposed for making even the slightest mistake in returns“one comma wrong and it’s ‘dead forever’.” The Marcabians also appear to have been distinctly socialistic, having “had plan balanced economies” (presumably some form of planned economy). (“E-Meter Actions, Errors in Auditing”)

They were also keen on motor racing and every once in a while Scientologists undergoing auditing “will run into [memories of] race tracks and race-track drivers”. Hubbard described this in some detail in a 1960 lecture:

They had turbine-generated cars that went about 275 miles an hour (443 km/h). They ran with a high whine. I notice they’ve just now invented the motor again. And they had tracks that were booby-trapped with atom bombs, and they had side bypasses. The tracks were mined, and the grandstands were leaded-paned.
(“Create and Confront”)

The tracks were deliberately designed to be as dangerous as possible, with “a mountain that you went up to the top of and fell off”, and death was commonplace. This, however, was not a problem, as Marcabian medicine was so good that nobody ever died permanently. According to author Russell Miller, Hubbard liked to reminisce to his followers about “how he was a race-car driver in the Marcab civilization”. One of the people who accompanied him aboard his private fleet in the late 1960s described Hubbard’s stories of life with the Marcabians:

LRH said he was a race driver called the Green Dragon who set a speed record before he was killed in an accident. He came back in another lifetime as the Red Devil and beat his own record, then came back and did it again as the Blue Streak. Finally he realized all he was doing was breaking his own records and it was no game any more.
(Miller, p.280)

Hubbard describes exactly this in his lecture “Create and Confront”, telling how he went through multiple lives as a Marcabian racing driver with names like The Green Rocket, The Red Comet, The Silver Streak, The Gold Bomb, and so on.

Hubbard stated that the Marcab Confederacy was now using Earth as a “prison planet”. When a person dies or “drops the body”, as Scientologists put it, his thetan is pulled into a Marcab-established “implant station” or “report station”. The idea that Earth is a “prison planet”, maintained by “entheta beings” or Targs who dumped their enemies on Earth, was first put forward in a 1952 lecture, “Electropsychometric Scouting: Battle of the Universes”. A steady flow of flying saucers is said to be still dropping off more entheta beings.

The report area for most has been Mars. Some women report to stations elsewhere in the Solar System. There are occasional incidents about Earth report stations. The report stations are protected by screens. The last report station on Earth was established in the Pyrenees.
(Scientology: A History of Man)

The thetans are brainwashed and sent back to Earth, where they find a new body to inhabit. Only Scientologists who have reached the level of “Operating Thetan” are said to be able to avoid this fate.

[…] Hubbard mentions a number of other alien civilizations in his writings, though he does not go into any detail about them. These include the “Three-and-a-half Invaders, … the Psi Galaxy, Galaxy 82.” (“The Story of a Static”) According to the official Church of Scientology notes accompanying the lectures in which he alluded to them, these were “made up” (presumably for humorous effect), contrasting with the supposedly real invader forces and civilizations cited above.

I love that last part. He just made up some shit to throw people off. Ya think?

But there are some very telling details to this elaborate story. Most notable (beyond the ridiculous time scales– Xenu apparently ruled this quadrant of the Galaxy for 2 Trillion Years) is how this advanced civilization that had beat death, liked racing cars and setting off random nukes, was just like the US in the 1950’s, only they were all evil Socialists who killed the inherently good-natured and capitalistic Thetans for sport and their technology was just like ours (down to even flying through space in Douglas DC-8s).

What’s telling about all this is that it emphasizes just what an unimaginative hack Hubbard was as a sci-fi author. He couldn’t conceive of a 200,000 year old space faring civilization that was any more advanced than the US at the height of the Cold War. Did they speak English and watch Leave it to Beaver as well? Take two hour long, four Martini lunches? Chase their secretaries around the office making lascivious faces? Enjoy a tight crew cut?

Maybe back in the fifties and sixties when Hubbard made this stuff up it sounded sci-fi and futuristic but fifty years on, it creeks like a badly made B-movie, complete with rubber aliens, technobabble and cardboard flying saucers.

It would be amusing if it weren’t for the thousands of people all over the world who fall prey to this nonsense. Bellow the silly Space Opera and gibberish about Thetans is an organization that takes in millions of dollars from people who are just looking for answers in a weird and confusing world, exploiting them and encouraging cult-like behavior, just to make a buck.

Operation Clambake is an organization dedicated to exposing this fraud. Drop on by and let them know they aren’t alone, that Tom Cruise and the crazy science fiction writer he worships aren’t going to win. A few trillion years form now, people will ask what was Scientology all about and will be able to snicker and laugh, they way w do now about other religions that have fallen out of fashion, like the cult of Mithra or Christianity.

Kooks In The Inbox

Yesterday, I received this frankly baffling email:

Hi. My name is Eugene Gershin. Perhaps we have met online, but more probably you don’t know me from Adam. I monitor blogs for SamsonBlinded, and came across your post.

I’d like to welcome you to look at Obadiah Shoher’s blog. Obadiah – an anonymous Israeli politician – writes extremely controversial articles about Israel, the Middle East politics, and terrorism.

Shoher is equally critical of Jewish and Muslim myths, and advocates political rationalism instead of moralizing.

Google banned our site from the AdWords, Yahoo blocked most pages, and Amazon deleted all reviews of Obadiah’s book, Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict.

Nevertheless, 170,000 people from 78 countries read the book.

Various Internet providers ban us periodically, but you can look up the site on search engines. The mirror www.terrorism-in-israel.com/blog currently works.

Please help us spread Obadiah’s message, and mention the blog in one of your posts, or link to us from invisiblelibrary.blogspot.com. I would greatly appreciate your comments.

Best wishes,
Eugene Gershin

First off, Eugene is right, I don’t know him from Adam. I don’t recognize him form the comment threads on any of my regular reads and he’s never commented on this blog. And seeing as he wants a link form the old blogger version that I shut down over a year ago, I’m guessing he hasn’t read anything I’ve written here lately.

But more to the point: Who is Obadiah Shoher, and how exactly does one become an anonymous Israeli politician? Israel hasn’t been around that long and it’s not that big so as to have politicians that could be anonymous, if we can even grant that there ever could be such a beast as an anonymous politician to begin with. I suspect they sit at the same lunch table with tiny giants and compassionate conservatives.

Googling his name doesn’t really answer the question, as it’s apparently a pen name for someone who describes himself as having a Machiavellian perspective, which is refreshing in it’s honesty, if still a bit scary.

Shoher’s “political rationalism” advocates an Imperialist Israel that controls the entire Middle East. He also applauded the war between Israel and Hezbullah over the summer, and seems to advocate war (nuclear or just good old killing) with well, everyone within reach of Israel’s missiles. It’s a little hard to make out just what policies he’s advocating from his site’s entries as they ramble all over the map of Cloud Kuckooland without ever making a real point. But the general impression one gets is that he’s awfully fond of the idea of starting wars he’ll never have to personally fight. Which makes me wonder how he managed to avoid getting appointed to some high ranking post in the Bush Administration. I guess that’s one of the downsides to being an anonymous politician.

I don’t know what to make of Amazon deleting reviews of his silly book, unless they were simply so racist and militant that they constituted hate speech. Which is not out of the question. Right wingers like Shoher tend to bring out the worst in those with poor impulse control and childish world views.

Why they would think I might be interested in promoting such bloody and fantastical nonsense escapes me. I doubt that Eugene is really singling me out here. This is very likely just a rare bit of kook spam but I clearly got on someone’s list because if something I wrote here or on my old blog.

So, let me make something clear: I never have and never will espouse an ideology like Shoher’s. I’m morally opposed to Imperialism and war, no matter what the excuse. If my anti-religious stance has given someone the impression that I’m just another antimuslim or antisemite ranter, let me clear that up as well: I’m opposed to religious indoctrination, not religious people. You have every right to believe any damn fool thing you like. But I am neither obligated to play make believe with you or to suffer your ignorant jibber jabber, especially when that barely coherent rambling involves celebrating murder and advocating killing as if it were just part of the daily routine of politics.

I’m not in the habit of discouraging people from reading this site but Mr. Shoher and Eugene, you are not welcome here. Tolerance only goes so far but it does not mean that I will suffer idiots and fools.

Christian Soldiers In Search Of a New Camp

Seems that the Evangelical children’s brainwashing camp “Kids on Fire,” featured in the documentary Jesus Camp will be closing.

Fisher’s camp—located in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota—has been the subject of much attention since the film’s release, with many critics and moviegoers denouncing the camp’s methods as militant and inappropriate. Upon the film’s release, the Kids on Fire camp site and the local Assemblies of God church were both vandalized, with damages at the camp totaling $1,500. Says Fischer about her decision to close down her camp: “I have a responsibility to keep the children safe.”

It’s too bad about the vandalism but I can’t say I’m sorry to hear about such a foul place shutting down. The poor Dominionists are left with just Church, Sunday School, Summer Bible Class, popular movies and the Left Behind Video Game to turn their children into Christian Terrorists.

Stephen Hawking Vs. The Pope

I was a little hard on Stephen Hawking last week but only because I except better form one of the most brilliant men on the planet. Better, like this:

HONG KONG (AP) – Famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking said Thursday that the late Pope John Paul II once told scientists they should not study the beginning of the universe because it was the work of God.

The British author _ who wrote the best-seller “A Brief History of Time” _ said that the pope made the comments at a cosmology conference at the Vatican.

Hawking, who didn’t say when the meeting was held, quoted the pope as saying, “It’s OK to study the universe and where it began. But we should not enquire into the beginning itself because that was the moment of creation and the work of God.”

The scientist then joked during a lecture in Hong Kong, “I was glad he didn’t realize I had presented a paper at the conference suggesting how the universe began. I didn’t fancy the thought of being handed over to the Inquisition like Galileo.”

We’ve come along way in a few short centuries. Today, a brilliant scientist can joke about being fed to the Inquisition by an obtuse man in a funny hat, rather than fear that the current Pope (formerly the head of the Inquisition) would actually tie him to the rack and break out the anal pear.

But some things never change. It’s the 21st century and we still have Pope for one thing. For another, people still listen to that gassy windbag as if his lunatic rantings about sky fairies and the moral implications of masturbating were anything but backward superstition. But three pips for Dr. Hawking for not backing down and going ahead with his fantastically important research, even if (and especially if) it honks off some dipshit in a fancy dress who believes the sky is falling.

Creationist Spam

In a nice change of pace, I recieved this piece of spam from a website of a Muslim Creationist from Turkey, declaring simply:

Primitive Man never existed, and there never was a Stone age

And providing a link to the website of Harun Yahya (http://www.harunyahya.com/index.php)*. If you haven’t heard of Harun Yahya, he’s the pen name for Adnan Oktar:

Adnan Oktar (a.k.a. Adnan Hoca) was born in Ankara in 1956 and lived there until he moved to Istanbul in 1979. He is one of the leading figures in Turkish creationism, and a fervent advocate of creationism in the creation vs. evolution debate. He is considered the leading Muslim advocate of creationism; unlike the majority of Christian creationists he subscribes to Old Earth creationism. He is an anti-zionist and anti-mason which he sees as very interrelated movements. Although he rejects allegations of anti-Semitism, claiming pagan and Darwinist roots for anti-Semitism [1] he is also credited as a Holocaust denier [2], with his book Soykırım Yalanı (The Holocaust Hoax).

[…] Oktar has written numerous books using the pen name Harun Yahya (Harun (Aron) and Yahya (John)), arguing against Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. He also argues that evolution is directly related to the claimed evils of materialism, nazism and communism. Most of his anti-evolution resources are identical to Christian creationist arguments and the scientific community have made identical critiques. [8]
He also has produced various works on Zionism and Freemasonry, accusing Zionists of racism and arguing that Zionism and Freemasonry have had significant negative effects on world history and politics. Finally, he has written more than a hundred books describing the morals of the Qur’an and faith related issues. Literally hundreds of books are credited to Oktar. Some claim therefore that others must have contributed to, or simply written, many of the books. This charge is adamantly denied on his web site; he claims sole authorship of all of the books.

[…] These books attempt to display for non-Muslims what Oktar claims to be signs of the existence of God, and the excellence of his creation. A sub-group within this series are the series of “Books Demolishing the Lie of Evolution”. The main purpose of these books is to attack the ideas of Materialism, Evolution, Darwinism, and atheism.

He even blindly attacks Buddhism for being a false religion built upon idolatry and falsehood […]

The covers of all of Oktar’s books bear the seal of the Prophet Muhammad. This seal is used on the Qur’an as an indication that the Qur’an is the last book and the last word of God, and the Prophet Muhammad is the last of His messengers. By taking this attribute of the Qur’an and the Prophet, Oktar claims that his books are the “last word” which will put a definite end to the arguments of his adversaries.

He makes all the usual mistakes that the ill-informed and ignorant make about Evolution and atheism: guilt by association (linking Evolution to Nazis, Communists, and whatever else enters his addled little mind), fringe science, The usual Social Conservatism and racism and offering it up in a nice frothy stew of mysticism and nonsense. And here I was hopping he would have something unique to add to the culture war. But unfortunately, he just borrows the same Christian Creationist screeds and substitutes the Christian names for Muslim mythological proper nouns.

Wikipedia links to some of his videos, in case you feel like a good chuckle.

Local Oaf Takes Advice From Well Meaning Krank; or: Is the Globe Warming, Or Is It Just Me?

George Washington was an honored veteran of two wars. Jefferson spoke three languages and wrote fluently in all of them.* Grant, it was said, could write in Greek with one hand while simultaneously writing in Latin with the other. President Bush, well, he gets his science from a science fiction author, and not even a good one:

In his new book about Mr. Bush, “Rebel in Chief: Inside the Bold and Controversial Presidency of George W. Bush,” Fred Barnes recalls a visit to the White House last year by Michael Crichton, whose 2004 best-selling novel, “State of Fear,” suggests that global warming is an unproven theory and an overstated threat.

Mr. Barnes, who describes Mr. Bush as “a dissenter on the theory of global warming,” writes that the president “avidly read” the novel and met the author after Karl Rove, his chief political adviser, arranged it. He says Mr. Bush and his guest “talked for an hour and were in near-total agreement.”

“The visit was not made public for fear of outraging environmentalists all the more,” he adds.

And so it has, fueling a common perception among environmental groups that Mr. Crichton’s dismissal of global warming, coupled with his popularity as a novelist and screenwriter, has undermined efforts to pass legislation intended to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, a gas that leading scientists say causes climate change.

Mr. Crichton, whose views in “State of Fear” helped him win the American Association of Petroleum Geologists’ annual journalism award this month, has been a leading doubter of global warming and last September appeared before a Senate committee to argue that the supporting science was mixed, at best.

“This shows the president is more interested in science fiction than science,” Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, said after learning of the White House meeting. Mr. O’Donnell’s group monitors environmental policy.

“This administration has put no limit on global warming pollution and has consistently rebuffed any suggestion to do so,” he said.

I saw Barnes on the Daily show and on Bill Mahr, Friday. His book is pure hagiography and Barnes couldn’t defend it even a little without stumbling into lugubrious platitudes. I don’t know what Crichton’s problem is. He used to be smart and sort of cutting edge in the science department. Now he’s just a cranky shill for pseudoscience. I guess that’s what happens when real science passes your fiction by at light speed: what sounded far out and whizbang a decade ago now sounds haplessly naive and about as forward thinking as a coal burning car.

“But it burns coal! It can shuttle a man at twice the spead of a horse and gets fifty gallops to the hogshead!”

Oooh! Tell us more, Dr. Crichton.