Skepchick Quickies 8.25

  • Eternal earth-bound pets – Worried about what will happen to your pets after the Rapture?  For a small fee, these atheists will see that your beloved Fluffy is cared for.  From Sean and SteveT.
  • Mali protest against women’s law – “Tens of thousands of people in Mali’s capital, Bamako, have been protesting against a new law which gives women equal rights in marriage.”  Many of the protestors are women.
  • BEAR robot roars to the rescue – Rebecca’s dreams of a robot bear army can come true!  From Steve.
  • A grand bargain over evolution – “Oddly, an underestimation of natural selection’s creative power clouds the vision not just of the intensely religious but also of the militantly atheistic.”  From Vanessa.


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. “It’s a tiny minority of women here that wants this new law – the intellectuals. The poor and illiterate women of this country – the real Muslims – are against it,” she added.

    For a moment I felt BBC had suddenly become The Onion. How can anyone say that with a straight face?

    Alternative, Onion-like headline for the piece:

    “Mali women defend their right to be treated as inferior”

    It’s sadly true, though.

  2. Re: Robert Wright’s NY Times op-ed, it sounds like he just wants everybody to redefine “religion” and “theology” and “higher purpose” into squishy new words that are so broad as to include everything, thereby rendering them useless, and then we’ll all get along!

    File this under “missing the point”. The particular beliefs are not really the problem, so much as how they are arrived at. People posit things that they cannot detect or test or confirm, and expect the rest of us to respect those ideas as if they were more than guesses.

  3. @infinitemonkey: “Of course the women in Mali are psst. If they wanted to be granted equal rights, then they would have gone to a western country.”

    They’re already a little torqued that they weren’t born Christian and male and rich.

  4. Side A says that Robert Wright is a journalistic genius whose clear prose and reasoned arguments place him on par with H.L. Mencken and Mark Twain as keen observers of American life. Side B says that Robert Wright is a fucking hack who’s never had an original idea in his life.

    But I’m from Side C, which exists only to point out that Side A and Side B are both wrong, because they’re stupid stupid heads who cannot match my sheer brilliance and insight!

  5. Robert Wright:

    But the point is just that these speculations are compatible with the standard scientific theory of human creation. If believers accepted them, that would, among other things, end any conflict between religion and the teaching of evolutionary biology.

    So, fundamentalists wouldn’t find evolution antithetical to their beliefs if only they accepted this position that is every ounce as antithetical to their beliefs as evolution? Brilliant! Give this man some prize!

  6. “Eternal earth-bound pets.” That’s the only Pascal’s Wager-esque argument that I can get on board with. I doubt the Rapture, but should Christians be so selfish as to have pets they know will be ‘left behind,’ the pets shouldn’t suffer for their owner’s ‘piety.’

  7. I noticed the the BEAR in the video is all animation with clips of it doing something that is close but not like what the video was showing. I think this robot has a way to go yet and I think the company is exaggerating a little in its claims. That said there are a lot of robots being used in combat over seas that are doing a bang up job that have saved many solders lives. http://www.tacticalwarfightergear.com/tacticalgear/catalog/Military_Robots.php

  8. My favorite part of Wright’s essay is when he says “some of the more strident atheists will need to make their own concessions to logic” (which could have been worded far better), and then goes on to describe Dawkins and Dennett doing exactly that.

  9. Judging by its name alone that BEAR robot would normally terrify me. Then I saw it.

    It’s not even adorable. It just looks silly. Like an overgrown remote-control toy. They could at least have made its face with a blood-drenched gaping maw or something.

    It looks like someone had put a teddy-bear shell over a mechano-set.

  10. When one of the best talking points they send you out with is “The Illiterate are down with this.” It’s time to fire all of your marketing people.

  11. Clearly there’s no indication of intelligent design in the moral thinking of many Muslims when it comes to equal rights for women. And perhaps Eternal Earth Bound Pets Inc. can care for all the robot bears left behind by their raptured owners.

  12. My fear is that robot bear will be so well trained he will actually atempt to save people from the rapture. Imagine it, Jesus & co pulling on one end of ya, robot bear hauling on the other end trying to get your ass out of the conflict zone.
    It is like a parable for modern life in which something divine and imaginary battles for the soul of man against an alternative which is totally awesome.

  13. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to worry about our cat after the rapture. My wife and I would probably be left behind to care for her anyway, even still, she’d be able to fend for herself. Satan’s fiery legions have nothing on a pissed off pussy cat.

    Whore of Babylon: Ooh, what a pretty kitty! Let me pet you!

    Cat: Mrrrowww! Hissssss!

    Whore of Babylon: Ouch! I’m bleeding! Bad kitty!


  14. Well, all the xtian theology that I know of says that no beings except humans will be “Raptured.”

    That being the case, I stand with Will Rogers when he famously said, “If dogs don’t go to heaven, I want to go where they went.”

    Not to mention the cats.

  15. Robert Wright’s argument is sort of summed up on page 3 where he asks atheists to acknowledge “… that any god whose creative role ends with the beginning of natural selection is, strictly speaking, logically compatible with Darwinism.”

    1) So you are comfortable your big point being a God of the Gaps / Argument from Ignorance Logical Fallacy?

    2) This is also a straw man. The problem isn’t ONLY that god conflicts with evolution. Once you push god out of evolution, it conflicts with investigations into abiogenesis. You’d need to push god out of having no impact on the natural world if you don’t want it to conflict with scientific inquiry.

    I’d be embarrassed to write an article for the NYT which is based on well known logical fallacies.

  16. @Peregrine:
    Yeah, my fiancee and I will most certainly be left behind, along with our two kitties. The little black one can keep Satan’s minions away by yowling pitifully at them, at least until he’s fed.

  17. @noisician:
    Not to mention the fallacy of the golden mean – creationists say one thing, atheists another, so the truth lies smack in the middle. With “quality” journalism such as this, I can’t imagine why newspapers would be struggling.

  18. What is it with these people selling the “middle way” that makes them so damn smug? I want to kick Robert Wright in the teeth for that atrocity of an article.

  19. Religion is incompatible with scientific thought because it is anti-Occamian. Even if you can reconcile currently-understood science with a religion, you’re still postulating unproven entities and concepts that have no explanatory power.

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