Ted Cruz Thinks NASA Spending on Earth Sciences Should Decrease; NASA Administrator Tells Him How Wrong He Is

On Thursday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), noted science denier and chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, voiced his concerns with NASA spending allocation during a committee meeting. Of particular concern to the senator was an increase in Earth sciences spending. Presenting a chart that showed an increase from the 2009 budget to the 2016 budget of 41% in Earth science spending, coupled with a decrease over the same period in space exploration of 7.6%, Cruz (below) argued that space exploration is the core function of NASA. Current spending was not honoring that mission, he felt.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden didn’t see things quite the same way. He began by noting that NASA has been actively seeking cost reduction for launches, and has managed to drive the costs down. But studying Earth is a critical function of NASA he argued, that “has enabled us to understand our planet far better than we ever did before.”

He also emphasized that he was not committing to Cruz’s numbers, as there is more to space exploration than the chart might accurately encapsulate.



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I’m a Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in God

This is a guest post by John Shuck, a Presbyterian minister.

“How can you call yourself a Christian, let alone a minister?!”

I get asked that question frequently and the questioner is hostile more often than not. Still, I like to answer it if I believe the questioner is sincere.

Though I self-identify as a Christian and I am an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I raised eyebrows a few years ago when I posted an article on my website about how my personal beliefs don’t align with those of most Presbyterians.

For example, I believe that:

  • religion is a human construct
  • the symbols of faith are products of human cultural evolution
  • Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about him is in the form of legend
  • God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force
  • The Bible is a human product as opposed to special revelation from a divine being
  • Human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there’s no afterlife

In short, I regard the symbols of Christianity from a non-supernatural point of view.

And yet, even though I hold those beliefs, I am still a proud minister. But I don’t appreciate being told that I’m not truly a Christian.

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Arabic Billboard Goes Up in Memphis to Promote Atheist Conference

American Atheists has its annual convention this Easter weekend in Memphis, Tennessee. They’ve already purchased a couple of billboards to advertise the gathering, leading to controversy after the initial billboards were rejected for including the words “Easter” and “church.”

But their latest billboard, aimed at ex-Muslims (who can read Arabic), should receive a whole different kind of reaction:



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Rick Santorum Wants the Bible Back in Public Schools (Not That Anyone Removed It in the First Place)

Over the weekend, ever-hopeful presidential candidate Rick Santorum told a conservative audience at Liberty Counsel’s The Awakening conference that the Supreme Court could be ignored; if they wanted Bibles in public schools, dammit, they could have them!



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A Free Online Course About Religious Conflicts

This sounds neat: The University of Groningen (in the Netherlands) is going to run a free online course called “Religion and Conflict“:



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