Photo of the day

Amazing gallery of images of Audubon photo awards at In Focus (bird lovers, you really need to check out the whole gallery):

Professional Honorable Mention—Sandhill Crane. Photo: Jason Savage / Audubon Photography Awards

Jason Savage / Audubon Photography Awards

Pet dinosaurs

So, a former student’s FB post about attending the Creation Museum inspired me to check out their website (of course, I’ve long-known of their existence, just never really investigated).  I was most fascinated to learn how they have simply decided to adopt dinosaurs and the fossil record and explain that they are just looking at it through a bible-based perspective rather than a science-based perspective.  They are proud of their fossils and have all sorts of pseudo-scientific explanations for how they are right and the scientists are wrong about evolution, natural selection, etc.  I ended up at the Answers in Genesis site where they proudly proclaim, “We’ve Invaded Their “Temple”! Humanists Are on Notice: We’re Taking Dinosaurs Back!”  Watch out you secular humanists!!

And, what is some of the air-tight logic upon which they are reclaiming dinosaurs?

And no, it’s not ridiculous to believe dinosaurs and people lived at the same time (as the Bible makes very clear)—it’s ridiculous and illogical not to! Consider the two signs pictured from one of Australia’s wildlife sanctuaries.

Think about it: according to evolutionary time, crocodiles have been around since the time of the dinosaurs1—and yet, humans live with crocodiles today. So why is it ridiculous to think humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time?

Sign from one of Australia’s wildlife sanctuaries

But it’s not just crocodiles—there are many other examples. On AiG’s website, there’s an article that quotes a leading evolutionist who said that finding a certain tree in Australia was like finding a “live dinosaur.” The article explained

This is because the tree, nicknamed the Wollemi pine, is known from fossils classed as so-called Jurassic age around 150 million years ago, but not from fossils in rocks of later periods.

Humans and the Wollemi pine tree live today, and yet from an evolutionary perspective, the Wollemi pine dates back to the “time of the dinosaurs.” That’s why the evolutionist called it the “dinosaur tree.”

While we don’t find fossils of the Wollemi pine tree and humans together, we do know they live together—because both are alive today.

WTF?  I can’t even get around the logic of how that all means humans, dinosaurs, and crocodiles are all only 6000 years old. But don’t worry, it’s science:

Nothing in observational science contradicts the obvious conclusion based on the Bible’s history:

  • Dinosaurs were created alongside man around 6,000 years ago.
  • Representative kinds of them were on Noah’s Ark.
  • Most dinosaur fossils are from the Flood (about 4,500 years ago).
  • Dinosaurs lived beside man after the Flood, but like lots of other animals and plants, have become extinct since that time.

Ouch, the stupid!

And, sure, it’s fun and easy to pick on the creation museum, but this is serious stuff.  Last year’s Gallup poll:

Trend: Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings?

Does the same-sex marriage decision help Republicans?

Yes, says Nate C0hn, but not at all in the ways you might expect (short-term mobilization of Evangelical voters).  He posted this really nice analysis long before the SC decision, but anticipating this ruling.

Many Republicans believe that their party needs to improve its image among the new generation of young and nonwhite voters who have helped President Obama win two terms. Yet there is a reason most Republican politicians have not tailored their positions on major issues toward younger voters: Doing so would risk angering the party’s base, which is predominantly old, white and culturally conservative.

Enter the Supreme Court.

With the legality of same-sex marriage being argued on Tuesday, the court could allow Republicans to abandon an unpopular position without abandoning their principles or risking a primary challenge. History would effectively be bailing out the party.

So, why is this such a bailout?  The demographics of the GOP– which, we all know are white, but which I did not realize were so dominated by Christian conservatives (and who are a shrinking portion of the US):

For all of the focus on the “white working class” or the “gender gap” or the urban-rural divide, the real fissure among white voters is along religious lines. The divide between white evangelical Christians and nonreligious white voters is about as large as the gap between white and nonwhite voters, and it dwarfs the education, income, gender or regional gaps.

The Republican advantage among white voters is a product of this division. There are more white evangelical voters than white non-Christian voters, and so the white vote tilts Republican. [all emphases mine] The remaining white non-evangelical Christian voters, like mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics, have split roughly evenly between the two parties. To the extent that the Republicans have a slight edge among them, it is because of the South.

This was a winning formula for Republicans. There were enough evangelical voters to overwhelm the Democratic alliance between the secular left and nonwhite voters.

That formula is in trouble. The growing nonwhite share of the electorate has played a well-documented role in eroding the viability of the traditionalG.O.P. path to the presidency, but the growing number of non-Christian white voters — the religiously unaffiliated, atheists, agnostics, Jews and others — will pose a problem as well.

Among voters under age 45, there were fewer evangelical voters than non-Christian whites, according to a compilation of pre-election surveys of nearly 14,000 respondents. Among 18-to-29-year-olds, white non-Christians outnumbered white evangelicals by a five-point margin. In comparison, evangelicals outnumbered non-Christians by a three-to-one margin among non-Hispanic whites over age 65.

This shift in the religious composition of white voters is a big part of why Mr. Obama fared so much better among 18-to-29-year-old whites than among white voters over age 30…

High and growing turnout among white evangelical voters, along with growing Republican margins among white evangelicals, helped Republicans offset this trend…

But as younger, less Christian voters age and their turnout rises, it becomes harder to imagine the Republicans continuing to compensate with higher turnout and support among white evangelicals..

If Republicans are running out of room to expand their margins among evangelical voters, then additional gains among white voters will have to come from nonevangelicals.

Short version: the Republicans’ reliance on white evangelicals is a demographic time-bomb.  Insofar as this decision helps them move beyond an over-reliance on white evangelicals, it will help them broaden their party.

So, as a Democrat, should I be upset?  Absolutely not.  I want their to be a sane and reasonable opposition party to the one I support and I think evidence suggests that as Republicans move past over-reliance on (older) white, evangelicals, they will likely grow more sane and reasonable.  I would love to have an opposition party that looks like David Frum and Reihan Salam– I disagree with those guys, but they make strong, genuinely reasonable arguments.  I’d like to think that, just maybe, this is a step towards getting there.  We can hope, as in this case what would be good for the Republican party would be good for the country.

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