Does the Pope Shit on the Woods?

I keep hearing that atheists attack a strawman version of religion,
that sophisticated theologians don’t make the sorts of simplistic
arguments we attribute to theists, and the like.

On Wednesday, the Pope gave a
speech about the environment,
in which he said:

Experiencing the shared responsibility for creation (Cf. 51), the Church is not only committed to the promotion of the defense of the earth, of water and of air, given by the Creator to everyone, but above all is committed to protect man from the destruction of himself. In fact, “when ‘human ecology’ is respected in society, environmental ecology also benefits” (ibid).

That’s rich, coming from the head of an organization whose policy
forbids family planning through birth control, a guy who himself, just
five months ago, said that
condoms make the AIDS problem worse,
in short, a guy who advocates policies of population growth checked
only by disease and competition for resources like water.

And then there’s the second half of that paragraph:

Is it not true that inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized or also where is existence is denied? If the human creature’s relationship with the Creator weakens, matter is reduced to egoistic possession, man becomes the “final authority,” and the objective of existence is reduced to a feverish race to possess the most possible.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Ratz, no. Inconsiderate use of creation does
not begin where the existence of your magic man is denied, it begins
where people don’t think their actions will have undesirable
consequences. And by the way, if you’re going to rail about people
pursuing “a feverish race to possess the most possible”, may I suggest
that you take off the silk robes and step outside of your
palatial summer residence?
Just a thought. Might make you look a little less of a hypocritical

As for who owns the Earth, let’s take a look at the
Bible, page 1,
right after the copyright page:

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

The NIV says “rule over”. The NRSV says “have dominion”. I think it’s
clear how this can lead to a “fuck you, it’s my earth, I can do what I
want” attitude, the “final authority” attitude that Ratzinger
deplores. And creationists in Darwin’s day didn’t believe in
extinction, on the grounds that God would never allow one of his
creations to die out.

As for “inconsiderate use of creation”, I shouldn’t have to point out
that if there are no gods, then they can’t save us or the planet, so
it’s up to us. If we don’t take charge of passing on to the next
generation the kind of planet we’d like to have, who will? In fact,
the pope’s next paragraph says as much:

Creation, matter structured in an intelligent manner by God, is entrusted to man’s responsibility, who is able to interpret and refashion it actively, without regarding himself as the absolute owner. Man is called to exercise responsible government to protect it, to obtain benefits and cultivate it, finding the necessary resources for a dignified existence for all.

except that he has to throw in a wholly gratuitous referece to God.

I can easily get behind a lot of what the speech said about protecting
the environment. But I can’t help noticing that the pope had to ignore
the Bible, his own policies, and a big chunk of the history of
religion in order to justify his conclusions with vague platitudes
about how “that covenant between the human being and the environment
that must be a reflection of the creative love of God”.

All of which would be mostly harmless if he hadn’t just taken a dump
on people who have been making those arguments long before he got
around to considering catching up to the 20th century, on the sole
grounds that they recognize his magic man for the superstitious tripe
that it is.

I keep hearing that morality has to come from God. And this is a
perfect example of that attitude: the leader of the single largest
sect on the planet saying that atheists must ipso facto be
inconsiderate and greedy.

So fuck you, Ratzi. Fuck you with a rusty crucifix.

Like Letting Students Grade Their Own Homework

This is retarded:

The Bush administration yesterday proposed a regulatory overhaul of the Endangered Species Act to allow federal agencies to decide whether protected species would be imperiled by agency projects, eliminating the independent scientific reviews that have been required for more than three decades.

[…] Under current law, agencies must subject any plans that potentially affect endangered animals and plants to an independent review by the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service. Under the proposed new rules, dam and highway construction and other federal projects could proceed without delay if the agency in charge decides they would not harm vulnerable species.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that this is as stupid as
letting the defendant at a trial decide whether he’s guilty or not, so
I won’t belabor that point.

But even with the best intentions on everyone’s part, this is still a
stupid idea.

There’s a joke about an old engineer called out of retirement to help
fix a machine at the factory where he used to work. After poking
around, he puts a chalk mark on the part to be replaced, and submits a
bill for $30,000, itemized as follows: “Chalk mark: $0.50. Knowing
where to put the chalk mark: $29,999.50”.

The EPA is in the best position to tell where environmental chalk marks should
go. It’s what they do. That’s why they have environmental experts. The
department of transportation may be great at planning and building
roads, but they can’t be expected to accurately predict how their work
affects the environment, any more than the EPA can be expected to
design and build an efficient highway system.