Thursday, 28 July 2016

Minnesota Sex Scandal - Pope's Envoy in 'Criminal' Cover-up.

Archbishop Niestedt
Minnesota Priest’s Memo Says Vatican Ambassador Tried to Stifle Sex Abuse Inquiry - The New York Times

The simmering sex scandals that have beset the US Catholic Archdiocese of Minnesota and St Paul bubbled over again this week with the news that an outraged priest, the Rev. Dan Griffith, released a memo in which he detailed possible criminal activity by none other than the Papal Nuncio. The Rev Griffith was working at a high level in the diocese and was the diocesan liaison with lawyers appointed to investigate the handling of sex abuse scandals.

The memo records how Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican's ambassador to the USA, ordered the destruction of evidence which implicated the former Archbishop of Minnesota and St Paul, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, in possible criminal activities. In the memo Rev Griffith said the actions of the Papal Nuncio amounted to “a good old fashioned cover-up to preserve power and avoid scandal.”

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The 'Intelligent Designer' Gets Up Our Nose.

MRSA

Photograph: By R Parulan Jr./Getty Images/Flickr RF
Human commensals producing a novel antibiotic impair pathogen colonization : Nature : Nature Research

Although examples of stupid design abound in nature, especially in the related fields of biological arms races and parasitism, this one take some beating. It's been going on not just under our very noses but up them.

The story so far (if you believe in intelligent (sic) design, that is): the common bacterium Staphylococcus aureus comes in several varieties, most of which are harmless to humans but a few are harmful. Intelligent (sic) design proponents who normally deny that intelligent (sic) design has anything to do with religion because that would make it difficult to get this Bible literalism disguised as science taught in schools in secular countries, will never-the-less tell you that these harmful bacteria are God's punishment on mankind for original sin.

Another End Of The World!

Rev John Hagee
For people who enjoy these regular ends of the world when Jesus returns, saves a few self-righteous Americans and kills everyone else, John Hagee is the man to follow!

His current prediction is for 30 August this year. There is no doubt at all about this. Like all his other predictions, this has been revealed to him by God and from his study of 'God's Holy Word' in the 'inerrant' Bible, so there can't be any doubt. There never is any doubt! There was never any doubt about all the previous predictions either!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Morality And Pre-Roman Civilisation in England

Field system in South Downs, England
South Downs National Park Authority
South Downs pre-Roman 'farming collective' discovered - BBC News

A little news item from southern England has been causing a flutter of excitement by posing a few questions for historians recently. It should, if properly understood, cause fundamentalist theists to ask themselves a few questions too.

The news item concerned a recent discovery that agriculture was highly organised in the immediate pre-Roman era in England. This was shown by the discovery of an extensive field system in what is now modern West Sussex and Hampshire. It was discovered using a new laser-based aerial survey technique known as LiDAR.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Gut Microbes Confirm Our Evolution


Artist's impression of hominid gut microbiota.

Image credit: The University of Texas at Austin. Illustration by Jenna Luecke
Cospeciation of gut microbiota with hominids | Science

Further confirmation that scientists have the hominid family tree about right in terms of time and branching has been provided in a paper published today in Science. It shows that some of the symbiotic bacteria we carry in our gut today have been with not only us but our close relatives from before we diverged into the different African apes and humans, and that they diverged and speciated at the same time.

This isn't really a surprise to evolutionary scientists because that is exactly what we would expect to happen. Mere confirmation of what is already known from the fossil and genetic evidence would scarcely raise an eyebrow and might not even be considered worth publishing. But, from a scientific point of view, the interesting thing here is that we don't, as was thought, acquire all out gut microbiota from our general environment. At least some of it seems to be inherited, hence forming a relatively isolated genetic line which has been maintained in the different diverging species over hundreds of thousands of generations.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Kendall House Abuse: What God Was Watching?

Kendall House Abuse Centre
Kendall House: Girls drugged and abused at church-run home - BBC News

The report of the review of Kendall House, an Anglican girls' home in Gravesend, Kent, ordered by Bishop of Rochester, is truly shocking! It reveals a regime of systematic physical, psychological and sexual abuse of young, troubled girls, some as young as 11 years old, to the extent that almost every child was subjected to this abuse routinely and as a matter of 'normal' practice.

Bear in mind as you read this that one of the supposed 'selling points' of religion is that unlike 'atheistic' or secular institutions, they provide these social support institutions out of a sense of moral duty and obligation to their fellows - and because Jesus told them to!

Monday, 18 July 2016

European Union - Impact of EU Immigration

Brexit Lie
Brexit and the Impact of Immigration on the UK

Maybe I'm talking to the converted and maybe I'm saying "I told you so!" but this report from the Centre for Economic Performance of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) by Jonathan Wadsworth, Swati Dhingra, Gianmarco Ottaviano and John Van Reenen, vindicates just about everything I have written about the immigration issue in respect of the EU referendum.

It reveals the blatant lies peddled by the Leave side for their own Machiavellian political ambitions, and it has to be said, shows the failure of the Remain side in failing to counter those lies.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Transitional Bird Wings In Cretaceous Amber!

For description see original paper
Mummified precocial bird wings in mid-Cretaceous Burmese amber : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group

More bad news for creationists to find coping strategies for. An interesting find in amber deposits from Myanmar has revealed a little more about the evolution of birds, or more precisely feathers, during the Cretaceous. It shows a bird wing with a transitional skeleton!

The details were published in an open access paper in Nature Communications a few days ago by an international research team was led by Dr Xing Lida from the China University of Geosciences, and colleagues from Canada, United States and Professor Mike Benton from the University of Bristol, UK. It shows tiny wings in astonishing detail, including bones, skin, muscles and feathers. The fine structure of the feathers even shows what is probably evidence of colour.

The significance of this find, apart from the fact that the wings were tiny - only two to three centimeters long - is that they are from hatchling enantiornithine birds which still had fingers with well-developed claws. This group of early birds became extinct along with dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Just Another Catholic Paedophile Seminarian

Seminary Student Sentenced To 15 Years For Arranging Sex With Infants

It would not be fair to assume that all expelled Catholic seminarians were expelled for paedophilia, but this example shows the continuing weakness in the Catholic Church's recruitment procedures in that these predators are still not being picked up earlier. If they hadn't been so careless they might well have made it into the priesthood where they had trusted access to vulnerable people.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

And No Religion Too...

People of no religion outnumber Christians in England and Wales – study | World news | The Guardian

Having been away from active blogging about religion for a while, what with a few personal family issues and a little matter of my fellow countrymen and women having voted to commit economic suicide by trying to go back to the 1970s instead of forward as part of a united Europe, it's good to come back with some good news, albeit a little late.

Ironically, it is news that illustrates how much like the rest of Western Europe we are. As with many other European countries, religious affiliation and church attendance continues to tumble in England at a rate that is causing panic and despondency in the established churches. The reaction of the established churches may reveal something about the attitude of clerics to 'faith'.

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