By Lisa Pryor
March 31, 2007
The views I am about to express are not very fashionable. They are certainly not politically correct. But I believe what I am about to say must be expressed to protect the institution of marriage.
Too often in the media, currency is given to the theory that everyone should be allowed to marry regardless of gender, outlook and whether the two people are creating a suitable family environment in which to bring up children.
Well, it is time to ask some hard questions about this attitude. The only way we will save marriage is to reclaim the institution for the mainstream. Marriage is for normal people who want to raise children in a healthy and secure environment. This is why we should ban religious fundamentalists from marrying.
Fundamentalists of all religions engage in unnatural practices. The unconventional views they hold inevitably lead to their children being teased in the playground and, no matter what studies may show, there is surely a greater risk they will grow up to be fundamentalist themselves if they are exposed to dangerous ideas from a tender age.
No matter what fundamentalist propaganda may claim, fundamentalism is not sanctioned by nature. There is not a single species in the animal kingdom which stresses the infallibility of the Bible or adheres to the teachings of the Koran. Even in the higher orders of primate, no species has conclusively shown faith in the virgin birth or the second coming. Animals tend to be atheist, pagan or animist, which shows that these views are surely instinctive, normal, natural and right.
Maybe you think it is OK for humans to differ from animals. Maybe you think consenting adults should be able to do what they like regardless of whether the average person agrees with their views.
Such a liberal approach is a slippery slope. When we allow fundamentalists to marry it says that fundamentalism is OK. It encourages these people to foist the fundamentalist agenda on the rest of the community. Before long they will be trying to “convert” people to their “religions”. Should we risk this? Fundamentalists are a small minority of the population, so only a small number of people would be inconvenienced by a ban. It would not even be discriminatory as fundamentalists would still have the right to marry – so long as they renounced their religion.
Let’s not forget that we are not just talking about consenting adults. When you allow fundamentalists to marry it encourages them to have children. Sure, they might still have kids even if they cannot marry in the eyes of the law, but why legitimise it? Children are the true victims of fundamentalist marriages. Children don’t get a say when they are born into a household practising a fundamentalist lifestyle. Tiny children should not be subjected to cultural experiments and social engineering. Imagine how confused and guilty children would feel when they were indoctrinated with the bizarre idea that they were born with the stain of original sin and were in fact so inherently bad that a man had to bleed to death to make it all OK.
Imagine also the teasing that children who have grown up in these “families” would be subjected to in the playground when other kids find out about their unusual views and practices. What are normal parents supposed to do when their children arrive home asking uncomfortable questions because they have been exposed to these groups at an age when they are too young to understand?
Before you know it, fundamentalist parents will be insisting preschool children read storybooks about the fundamentalist lifestyle in order to better understand it. There will be colouring books directed at four-year-olds showing Jesus turning water into wine and walking on water, as if it were gospel.
What hope does a child indoctrinated with this sort of propaganda have of growing up to be normal? Can you really tell me they will not be more likely to grow up fundamentalist themselves?
Before you accuse me of hate speech, I should point out that I bear no grudge against fundamentalists personally. “Love the fundamentalist, hate the fundamentalism” is my policy.
I suppose one chink in this argument is that banning a minority from marrying is utterly unfair, inhumane and intolerant. Kind of like the ban on gay marriage.
and, if we didn’t already have enough to say that intelligent design is a bunch of crap…
Their results could change the way we imagine life arose on early Earth
By Douglas Fox
March 28, 2007
A Frankensteinesque contraption of glass bulbs and crackling electrodes has produced yet another revelation about the origin of life.
The results suggest that Earth’s early atmosphere could have produced chemicals necessary for life—contradicting the view that life’s building blocks had to come from comets and meteors. “Maybe we’re over-optimistic, but I think this is a paradigm shift,” says chemist Jeffrey Bada, whose team performed the experiment at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif.
Bada was revisiting the famous experiment first done by his mentor, chemist Stanley Miller, at the University of Chicago in 1953. Miller, along with his colleague Harold Urey, used a sparking device to mimic a lightning storm on early Earth. Their experiment produced a brown broth rich in amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The disclosure made the pages of national magazines and showed that theories about the origin of life could actually be tested in the laboratory.
But the Miller-Urey results were later questioned: It turns out that the gases he used (a reactive mixture of methane and ammonia) did not exist in large amounts on early Earth. Scientists now believe the primeval atmosphere contained an inert mix of carbon dioxide and nitrogen—a change that made a world of difference.
When Miller repeated the experiment using the correct combo in 1983, the brown broth failed to materialize. Instead, the mix created a colorless brew, containing few amino acids. It seemed to refute a long-cherished icon of evolution—and creationists quickly seized on it as supposed evidence of evolution’s wobbly foundations.
But Bada’s repeat of the experiment—armed with a new insight—seems likely to turn the tables once again.
Bada discovered that the reactions were producing chemicals called nitrites, which destroy amino acids as quickly as they form. They were also turning the water acidic—which prevents amino acids from forming. Yet primitive Earth would have contained iron and carbonate minerals that neutralized nitrites and acids. So Bada added chemicals to the experiment to duplicate these functions. When he reran it, he still got the same watery liquid as Miller did in 1983, but this time it was chock-full of amino acids. Bada presented his results this week at the American Chemical Society annual meeting in Chicago.
“It’s important work,” says Christopher McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “This is a move toward more realism in terms of what the conditions were on early Earth.”
Most researchers believe that the origin of life depended heavily on chemicals delivered to Earth by comets and meteorites. But if the new work holds up, it could tilt that equation, says Christopher Chyba, an astrobiologist at Princeton University. “That would be a terrific result for understanding the origin of life,” he says, “and for understanding the prospects for life elsewhere.”
But James Ferris, a prebiotic chemist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., doubts that atmospheric electricity could have been the only source of organic molecules. “You get a fair amount of amino acids,” he says. “What you don’t get are things like building blocks of nucleic acids.” Meteors, comets or primordial ponds of hydrogen cyanide would still need to provide those molecules.
Bada’s experiment could also have implications for life on Mars, because the Red Planet may have been swaddled in nitrogen and carbon dioxide early in its life. Bada intends to test this extrapolation by doing experiments with lower-pressure mixes of those gases.
Chyba is cautious: “We don’t know,” he says, “whether Mars really ever had that atmosphere.” That’s because Mars today has carbon dioxide, but hardly any nitrogen—which is also needed for making amino acids. Some scientists suspect that nitrogen gas existed on Mars, but was blasted away by asteroid impacts billions of years ago.
and then, a 180° turn into bizarre sex land, just for good measure…
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) — Five fifth-grade students face criminal charges after authorities said four of them had sex in front of other students in an unsupervised classroom and kept a classmate posted as a lookout for teachers.
The students were arrested Tuesday at the Spearsville school in rural north Louisiana, authorities said. Two 11-year-old girls, a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year old boy were charged with obscenity, a felony. An 11-year-old boy, the alleged lookout, was charged with being an accessory.
“After 44 years of doing this work, nothing shocks me anymore,” said Union Parish Sheriff Bob Buckley. “But this comes pretty close.”
Authorities said the incident happened March 27 at the school, which houses students from kindergarten through 12th grade. A high school teacher normally watches the fifth-grade class at the time, but went to an assembly for older students and the class was inadvertently left unattended, Buckley said.
The class, which had around 10 other students, was alone for about 15 minutes, he said.
“When no teacher showed up, the four began to have sex in the classroom with the other elementary students in the classroom with them,” he said.
It took a day for authorities to find out about the incident. A student who had been in the class told a high school student about it the next day, Buckley said. The student told a teacher, and school officials notified the sheriff’s office. Detectives began questioning students Thursday.
School officials did not return calls seeking comment.
The students, who were not identified because of their age, were released to their parents after their arrests, Buckley said. They will next be arraigned in juvenile court.
A message seeking comment from the district attorney was not immediately returned.
Buckley said it was unclear what penalties the children could face.